Capturing the essence of a constantly evolving artist like the massively successful Prince is no easy task, but music journalist and biographer Ro’s look at the man behind the curtain is a worthy effort. Born and raised in Minneapolis, Prince Rogers Nelson was immersed in music from a young age, listening to his musician father, John, trying to make it big. Just as he would years later for his studio albums, young Prince played whatever musical instrument he could find and mastered each one. He formed several bands as a teenager in the 1970s, playing Top 40 covers, before striking out on his own. Though record labels were first leery about a teenager who not only performed but also produced his own material, 17-year-old Prince signed with Warner in 1977 in one of the most lucrative contracts ever offered to an unknown. From his first album For You, one thing was obvious: Prince was devoted to his music and nothing would prevent him from making the kind of sound he wanted to make. Ro chronicles Prince’s increasingly difficult relationship with Warner, as well as his tumultuous history with his backup band, the Revolution, and the young artists he brought into the fold. Prince has helped redefine the boundaries of the music industry, and this solid biography gives fans a peek at a complicated talent. (Nov.)
An energetic, detailed balance of reportage and criticism about an icon of his era.” Kirkus Reviews
"The read of the year." Chicago Tribune on Have Gun Will Travel
"A revelatory (and titillating) page-turner for fans and the uninitiated alike." San Francisco Chronicle on Raising Hell
"The most comprehensive treatment yet of a pivotal figure...Probably one of the ten best books on rap." Booklist (starred review) on Dr. Dre
Prince Rogers Nelson's three decades in the music business make for an original tale in this era of corporate, American Idol-style pop stars. His rise and fall and rise is that of an artist who has followed his own path, sometimes infuriatingly so. Between the phenomenal success of 1984's Purple Rain and 2010's Dreamer, Prince has earned 33 Grammy nominations. Listed in Time magazine's 2010 annual ranking of the "100 Most Influential People in the World," Prince remains as controversial as he is iconic. Ro (Dr. Dre: The Biography) here relies heavily on previously published material, especially Per Nilsen's Dancemusicsexromance: Prince—The First Decade and Alex Hahn's excellent Possessed: The Rise and Fall of Prince. VERDICT Ro has the advantage over Nilsen and Hahn in that he covers Prince's most recent successes. This book will also be competing with Jason Draper's equally fine Prince: Chaos, Disorder, and Revolution, but Ro's approach and information is different enough to warrant a purchase.—Bill Baars, Lake Oswego P.L., OR
Did 10 years of researching the enigmatic Prince pay off? You bet. For much of the 1980s, Prince was arguably the most important pop musician on the planet. He wasn't an originator, however, but a sponge who could take bits and pieces from different genres and manage to create something uniquely his own. The fact that he could sing well, play expertly on several instruments and wear the hell out of skin-tight leotards didn't hurt either. Considering his sales figures, influence and huge, albeit admittedly inconsistent discography, it's surprising that nobody has delivered a noteworthy Prince bio...until now. Veteran journalist Ro (Dr. Dre: The Biography, 2007, etc.) spent a decade researching this book--which shouldn't surprise Prince's fans, as the man is notoriously private--and it was worth it, as he was able to get vital information, opinions and anecdotes from Prince's close and not-so-close associates, everybody from sidemen to record-label execs. (Unsurprisingly, the man himself did not grant Ro access.) By utilizing verbatim dialogue, the book often reads like a novel; granted, some readers may doubt the veracity of every piece of dialogue, but it's enjoyable nonetheless. The author has an obvious affection for Prince's work, but he maintains enough objectivity to be credible. An energetic, detailed balance of reportage and criticism about an icon of his era.