Prince’s posthumous book released
NEW YORK (AP) — Panic, joy, shock: Dan Piepenbring felt them all when Prince plucked him to collaborate on his first memoir, followed by more shock and profound sadness at news of the superstar’s death while the book was in its early stages.
Though the project was thrown into chaos when Prince died on April 21, 2016, of an accidental drug overdose, his estate ultimately decided to press on, allowing Piepenbring and his publishing team free access to the pieces of his life left behind at his beloved Paisley Park, including the contents of his vault.
Now, the highly anticipated collaboration, “The Beautiful Ones,” is out in the world with its release Tuesday as many fans continue to mourn, propelling the 33-year-old journalist into the spotlight to explain how he sorted it all out.
“There was a sense even from the start that it couldn’t really be happening,” Piepenbring told The Associated Press of his involvement. “It felt very surreal. There was also just a sense of joy, I think, at the possibility of meeting someone that I held in such high regard, someone whose music had been the soundtrack to the better part of my youth.”
The book, from Spiegel & Grau, includes no bombshells, though Prince very much wanted to provide some, and a mere 28 memoir pages written in his elegant script and quirky style, replacing the word “I” with a drawing of a human orb, for instance. All told, Piepenbring spent 12 to 15 hours face-to-face with Prince in Minneapolis, New York and on tour in Melbourne.
Their last conversation was just four days before Prince died. It was focused on his parents and their conflicting influences in his life. His father, John L. Nelson, was a disciplined, God-fearing jazz pianist with an explosive temper. His mother, Mattie Della Shaw, was a beautiful, fun-loving party girl with a stubborn, irrational streak — and a sneaky flair, as Prince wrote:
“She would spend up what little $ the family had 4 survival on partying with her friends, then trespass in2 my bedroom, ‘borrow’ my personal $ that eye’d gotten from babysitting local kids, & then chastise me 4 even questioning her regarding the broken promises she made 2 pay me back.”
The tumultuous nature of his parents’ relationship had a lasting impact.“The wound of Ur parents fighting is chilling when U’re a child,” Prince wrote. “If it happens 2 become physical, it can be soul-crushing.”
This cover image shows “Prince: The Beautiful Ones,” the memoir Prince started but didn’t finish before his 2016 death.