Top Picks: Prince

One of the most celebrated pop musicians of all time, Prince, was a singer, songwriter, producer, actor, director, and, according to many, a multi-instrumentalist. He is best known for such albums as 1999, Purple Rain, Sign O the Times, and Musicology.  

Prince, born Prince Rogers Nelson in Minneapolis, Minnesota, on June 7, 1958, was named after his father's jazz band, the Prince Rogers Trio. Following his parents' divorce, Prince's home life became difficult, unstable, and emotionally taxing, fueling his withdrawal into music. Soon after joining a band while in high school, he began recording at a Minneapolis studio, attracting Warner Bros. attention and a recording contract in 1977. Known for his unique musical style that brought together soul, jazz, rock, and funk, Prince's musical reach encompassed sexual, romantic, political, and religious elements in unforgettable lyrics that were at once controversial and critically and financially successful.

Prince has received numerous awards, including an Academy Award, seven Grammy Awards, seven American Music Awards (two honorary), and was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2004, among many others.

Prince died April 21, 2016, in Minneapolis, Minnesota, leaving behind a legacy of exceptional creativity and musical brilliance that helped define and influence a generation.

In celebration of his life, here are a few top picks for Prince. 

This Thing Called Life

As told from the perspective of Rolling Stone editor and Newsweek writer, Neal Karlen, this is a thoughtful account of Prince's life, detailing personal and professional interactions with the musician, while giving us an honest, much welcome look at the man behind the superstar image. 


Prince: The Man and His Music is a well-researched and richly detailed biography, featuring songs released and unreleased and focuses primarily on his musical career, spanning nearly four decades. 

21 Nights

This beautiful collection of photograph, lyrics, and poems was compiled during Prince's 21 nights in London's 02 Arena in 2007, providing a rare glimpse into the life of this prolific musician. A pleasant experience for any fan of Prince. 

The Beautiful Ones

A combination of memoir and scrapbook, The Beautiful Ones is a coming-of-age story about Prince's rise to superstardom. 

Purple Rain

Prince stars as The Kid in this semi-autobiographical film as he struggles to hold his band together while managing a difficult personal life. The soundtrack to this film won Prince an Academy Award and was later inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame. 

Under the Cherry Moon

Prince both stars and directs in Under the Cherry Moon, portraying Christopher Tracy,  a musician and gigolo seeking an heiress for financial benefit, but finding love instead. 

Want to learn more about Prince? Checkout these recommended titles. What's your favorite Prince song or album? 

We welcome your respectful and on-topic comments and questions in this limited public forum. To find out more, please see Appropriate Use When Posting Content. Community-contributed content represents the views of the user, not those of Chicago Public Library