Title: The Beautiful Ones
Publisher: Spiegel & Grau
Formats: Hardcover, Kindle, Audiobook
Release date: October 29, 2019
While not the complete autobiography we hoped for, or that Prince intended to release (“it has to be the biggest music book of all time”), The Beautiful Ones is still a significant first person account of the artist’s life. Who, but Prince, might ponder a few days before his death, “We need to find a word for what funk is.” As editor and collaborator Dan Peipenbring states in the introduction, “Unpacking these ideas is part of what made [Prince] want to write a book in the first place.” At a time when he had turned more introspective and was processing his past, Prince sought an “improvisational partner” who understood that “music holds things together.” Dan became the keeper of the Prince “handbook” and worked diligently with the artist to create a memoir that defied conventions in the same manner as his music. But just as their ideas were starting to gel in the spring of 2016, the fateful news came from Paisley Park: Prince was dead.
Over the course of their four month collaboration, the pages Prince provided for the memoir only touched upon his childhood and adolescence. Working with the estate, Dan decided to weave together the completed pages with his introduction, which encompasses the first chapter of the book, along with Prince’s collection of photos chronicling his early career, and concluding with a handwritten synopsis Prince made for the film that would become Purple Rain.
The Beautiful Ones is indeed a beautiful production that offers a glimpse into Prince’s life and archive. Although more scrapbook than memoir, it is still a volume to be cherished.
Reviewed by Brenda Nelson-Strauss