A talented man: The enigmatic Prince
GLENN TOWNES Special to the AmNews | 7/27/2011, 5:13 p.m.
As a musical performer Prince has rocked, rolled and thrilled audiences around the world for more than 30 years. A sizzling new tell-all about Prince Rogers Nelson will shed some additional light on the outrageous and controversial yet hugely entertaining musician to his legion of die-hard fans and hardcore critics.
The book "Prince: Chaos, Disorder and Revolution," by music critic and journalist Jason Draper, is a revealing and at times emotionally charged tome about the life of one of the world's most entertaining and exciting performers. "The man in purple" and several other less flattering descriptions have been hurled at the relatively hard to categorize man with the seemingly undefined sexuality, dark hair and deep, foreboding eyes. The glitz, tight pants, platform shoes that add height to his short stature, pounding music and flashy stage ensemble notwithstanding, Prince the creative musician was not born with a silver spoon in his mouth.
Born June 7, 1958, in Minneapolis, he was viewed as an awkward, taciturn little boy with an odd aura about him. He was the product of what some may call a dysfunctional family, with an abusive father and aloof mother, and his parents split when he was a kid.
The author writes, "Prince didn't stay with his father for very long. In 1972, he moved to Central High, where he began to come into his own. He was still a quiet, shy boy who walked around in denim flares, knitted tank tops, and an Afro, and he spent his lunch breaks practicing alone in the music room-in part to avoid his schoolmates, who seemed happy making life difficult for the introverted teenager."
After a series of setbacks, comebacks, losses and wins, Prince hit paydirt in 1984 with the release of one of the biggest-selling albums at the time: "Purple Rain." Prince was only 26 years old and instantly became a global superstar, a far cry from his humble beginnings making music in obscure, out of the way places. The author writes, "Taking his lead from the flag bearers of funk-Sly Stone, James Brown and George Clinton-Prince imbued his art with his idiosyncratic view of life, turning out music from the mind of a sex-obsessed deviant; a bomb-fearing party animal to a God-fearing man searching for ways to reconcile the spiritual with the sexual."
It should be mentioned that each of Prince's albums have both overt and subliminal messages inscribed in them. This is common practice in music making, however, Prince seems to have a much more cogent way of telling a story in blatant language and subtle details with nuanced references to himself than many of his contemporaries. He also takes a direct approach to controversial issues. For example, he once told a Detroit DJ, "I have a sort of F you attitude. I make [music] for myself and my fans and the people who supported me through the years."
"Prince: Chaos, Disorder and Revolution" is an enthralling book, a must-read for the hundreds of thousands of Prince fans out there. Draper's extensive research, interviews and sorting through thousands of newspapers, magazines and blogs is an impressive effort, and the result is a complete and accurate portrayal of the enigmatic and highly creative man called Prince.