by Jay Gabler
March 19, 2016
Rolling Stone is already calling it "one of the most anticipated memoirs in music history." Prince has announced that he is writing a memoir. The book will be titled The Beautiful Ones — sharing the title of a memorable song from Purple Rain — and will be written in collaboration with Dan Piepenbring, who works as a Web editor at the Paris Review and also drums in a Brooklyn band with an unprintable name. Publication is slated for fall 2017.
Prince — who has already submitted 50 pages of manuscript, says one of his literary agents — made the announcement on Friday at a typically unconventional New York press conference. Prince appeared at the Avenue nightclub before what the AP called a "feverish" crowd that included not only press representatives but also fans and musicians including Harry Belafonte and Maxwell.
There were apparently no photos permitted, leaving Entertainment Weekly to describe his outfit as "gold sequined pinstripe pajamas" and the Wall Street Journal to call the clothing "a shiny Mylar-type outfit." He asked rhetorically, "You still read books, right?" and announced that the memoir will span from his earliest memories in 1960s Minneapolis to his 2007 Super Bowl performance.
Like his fellow Minnesotan Bob Dylan — whose acclaimed Chronicles: Volume One was an episodic, incomplete, out-of-sequence memoir — Prince plans to take an out-of-the-ordinary approach to the art of memoir. "Like Dylan," said the literary agent, "he writes his own songs, so of course he will write a wonderful book."
According to a press release, "Prince will take readers on an unconventional and poetic journey through his life and creative work — from the family that shaped him and the people, places, and ideas that fired his creative imagination, to the stories behind the music that changed the world."
"Prince is a towering figure in global culture,” said Chris Jackson, acquiring editor at Random House imprint Spiegel & Grau, “and his music has been the soundtrack for untold numbers of people — including me — for more than a generation; his creative genius has provided the musical landscape for our lives. Millions of words have been written about Prince — books and articles, essays and criticism — but we’re thrilled to be publishing Prince’s powerful reflections on his own life in his own incandescently vivid, witty, and poetic voice."
After the press conference — which, according to the Wall Street Journal account, "in true rock-star form," started "hours late" — Prince went offstage, changed outfits, and came back to play a 45-minute set. Among the songs he played: the 1999 number "All the Critics Love U in New York."
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