Prince Gets Deeply Personal in Unfinished Memoir: 'The Beautiful Ones'

(Photo by Michael Putland/Getty Images)
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(Photo by Michael Putland/Getty Images)

Many people, from Bobby Z to Gwen Stefani, have their own stories of Prince. Prince the “[perfectionist]: matching boots, matching outfit, matching handkerchief, hat, cane…” Prince the competitive Ping-Pong player. Prince who stopped doing interviews. Prince who resumed his interviews. Prince who did an interview without speaking a single word.

Hitting the bookshelves a week from now on October 29, the unfinished memoir The Beautiful Ones unveils the mystery that surrounded Prince’s life and legacy, in Prince’s own terms. In the final months of his life, Prince worked closely with editor Dan Piepenbring to shed light on the iconic persona of Prince through an intimate purview of his personal life as Prince Rogers Nelson, born in Minnesota. 

The title of the memoir is a stylish reference to his catalog song, “The Beautiful Ones,” a fitting match for his literary endeavor of “[painting] a perfect picture, [bringing] to life a vision in one’s mind.” 

In the early days of collaborating the memoir with Piepenbring, Prince looked the Brooklyn-based writer dead straight in his eyes, “Can we write a book that solves racism?”

The memoir’s meaning is multilayered, also embedding Prince’s vision of creating a “handbook for the brilliant community,” a tool for readers, especially young artists, to take agency and become empowered.

As an artist, Prince refused to stay within any siloes, whether of sexuality, black music, or any other that stood in the way of unfettered individual integrity, and yet he shared with Piepenbring, “Funk is the opposite of magic,” said Prince. “Funk is about rules.”

In partnership with Random House, the memoir features exclusive publication of behind-the-scenes images, original lyric sheets written by Prince, and other deeply personal anecdotes that influenced Prince the individualist, including his first kiss, an epilepsy he experienced as a child, and his mother’s secrets.

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