2016 was a fairly greedy year when it came to relieving us of our greats. On April 21, the artist formally known as Prince Rogers Nelson passed away at the age of 57. Found in an elevator of his palatial Paisley Park mansion, paramedics pronounced him dead on the scene. And oh, my broken purple heart! National Monuments the world over turned purple for the night in honour of Prince’s life, and in the aftermath of this mourning, music journalist Mick Wall was compelled to complete the recently published biography Prince: Purple Reign.
When a cultural icon dies, there is a knee-jerk reaction to instantly romanticize that person. Mick Walls’ straight-forward writing style doesn’t gloss over the fact that Prince was sometimes arrogant, often controlling or that he liked to occasionally indulge in some delusions of grandeur. Repeatedly throughout his career, Prince’s big, big ego was only tolerated because he backed it up with a big, big talent. But when he got it right, he got it perfect and Wall details all the passion and madness Prince poured into creating massive hits like Let’s Go Crazy and When Doves Cry.
Though Prince’s most prolific creative years were undoubtedly during the 1980s, he was still making music that would have an impact on pop culture into the 1990s. It’s a shame then, that Wall doesn’t go into as much detail on these latter works, or the tours that supported them. For instance, Prince performed his final concert on April 14, 2016 — a mere 7 days before he died!
A succinct tribute, Prince: Purple Reign is an easy, enjoyable read on one of pop culture’s most controversial and polarising players.