• Prince: Chaos, Disorder, And Revolution

    By: Jason Draper
    Released by: Backbeat Books
    Released on: 3/1/2011
    PurchaseFrom Amazon

    With his latest book, Prince: Chaos, Disorder And Revolution Jason Draper, author of Led Zeppelin: Revealed and A Brief History Of Album Covers and review editor for Record Collector Magazine cuts right to the chase. A lean book at two hundred and thirty pages (plus an additional forty pages of time line and end notes information). Draper’s is a detailed and fact filled look at the enigmatic career of one of the best selling popular music artists of the last thirty years.

    It’s well known that Prince is, shall we say, a weird dude. He is, like many talented artists, an eclectic sort and frequently prone to making strange choices, not all of which prove to be commercially viable. Draper’s book hits the ground running, filling us in on Prince Rogers Nelson’s early years in Minnesota where his musician father inspired him at a young age to follow in his footsteps. We learn about his high school years and then about his various bands, the formative steps he took before eventually being signed to Warner Brothers records after being touted as ‘the next Stevie Wonder.’ It was here that he’d experience the ups and downs of stardom, wrestle for creative control over his various albums, try his hand successfully and not so successfully at moviemaking with Purple Rain and Under A Cherry Moon, and go through women faster than you can count them.

    He’d grow increasingly reclusive over the years, not granting many interviews or allowing many people to get too close to him. He’d change his name to a symbol and back again, sue Warner Brothers, release an album on the internnet before it was a proven viable source of distribution and later get in touch with his spiritual side. His conversion to the Jehovah’s Witness religion would wind up changing his world view and in turn the raunchy content that much of his music was famous for and he’d later reject the internet and become even more reclusive.

    Throughout the decades, and at this point Prince has been around a long time, he’s always been an interesting character and if Draper’s book doesn’t get inside Prince’s head the way a lot of great biographies do, it does paint a pretty broad picture of his many accomplishments and lend some welcome insight into how and why he does what he does. Without interviewing Prince directly, Draper’s book relies instead on interviews with those who knew him at various stages in his career. Record executives, former band members, various ladies from his life and even a bodyguard are quoted throughout the book and those who were there and who knew Prince personally are able to fill in some of the blanks that Draper’s research alone can’t quite get to.

    The book turns out to be quite an interesting read. The hardcore Prince fan will appreciate Draper’s meticulous attention to detail while the casual fan will enjoy the incredibly thorough overview of Prince’s remarkable and bizarre career. This isn’t the definitive book on the artist (it’s yet to be written and it’s entirely possible given the man’s personality and his value of privacy that it never will be) but it’s a very comprehensive piece and quite interesting regardless.