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Prince: Inside the Music and the Masks
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Prince: Inside the Music and the Masks

3.32  ·  Rating details ·  241 Ratings  ·  43 Reviews
A fascinating, authoritative biography of one of the most commercial, controversial, and influential musicians of all time

In his three decades-long of recording, Prince has had nearly thirty albums hit the Billboard Top 100. He is the only artist since the Beatles to have a number one song, movie, and single at the same time. Prince's trajectory—from a teenage unknow
Hardcover, 384 pages
Published October 25th 2011 by St. Martin's Press (first published March 1st 2011)
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Dec 04, 2011 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This exhaustive compilation of previously published information on Prince's career may well be enough for the casual fan. But if you've been falling his ups and downs over the years you'll already know everything here, as Ro didn't do much original research (no bombshells or inside scoops) and has no particular insight into what makes Prince tick.
I was fan girl CRAZY for Prince when I was a teenager. Bought all his CD's sight unseen. Had his inappropriate half naked posters up on my walls with kisses all over them ( to my mother's horror). Turning down "Darling Nikki" real low so mom couldn't hear the very sexual lyrics, lol. Never thought I would be attracted to a man that wore makeup, heels, lace, frills and thigh highs, but there you have it, I was! I was a fan for many years into young adulthood. Still loved him even when he became u ...more
Michelle Lopez
Prince has always been a mystery. After reading this book, he still is.
Scott Woods
This is yet another largely non-exclusive look at Prince that doesn't stand out of the pack. Spending more time on the fat years of Prince and far too little time on the lean, this book reveals almost nothing that a fan of Prince - the most likely candidate to even pick up this book in this day and age - doesn't already know or have access to. There is virtually nothing distinguishing this book from the last five books about Prince that came out in the last ten years. Information is largely cull ...more
Francis Coco
Feb 23, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I enjoyed this book. I read it a few years ago but recently pulled it out and read it again. I am a die hard fan and I did already know much of what was in it but I still enjoyed the book.
Feb 14, 2012 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: prince, music, bio
This book isn't just an utter waste of time if you've read Prince bios like Per Nilsen's Dance, Music, Sex, Romance: Prince: The First Decade and Alex Hahn's Possessed: The Rise and Fall of Prince; annoyingly it contains plenty of mistakes, like for instance claiming Prince was still recording tracks for The Black Album in December 1987, when that album was actually scheduled for release in the first week of that month.

Basically it's a thinly disguised rewrite of Per Nilsen's A Documentary, comb
Dec 26, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is the first book I read about Prince, so there was some info I didn't know. Over all, pretty informative, although some info is repeated (editing errors) and some minor inaccuracies, like attributing a rap by Cat to Sheila E, make me wonder if anything else is incorrect. But it's probably mostly correct. The book gives some insight into how he treated the other artists in his band or on his label. Mostly they benefited, but maybe were also kept at low pay, with no written contracts, which ...more
Michael Trigilio
Robin Ro just doesn't seem to like the music (or masks) if Prince very much. I mean, he doesn't have to like anything. But it's a bummer when, I'm writing about every single record release he describes each album since 1984 as "lackluster," "disappointing'" "tame," or "flat." Ro goes into some depth over the business and financial whirlwind of Prince's early-to-mid 90s career. But there's such constant low-grade disdain and derision that it feels more like a poorly-collated collection of gripes ...more
Ronin Ro is the opposite of Kitty Kelley or Andrew Morton in terms of writing biographies. This is an interesting, if somewhat stale, re-telling of the rise of Prince Rogers Nelson, a musical prodigy whose influence on the industry is felt today. It's not bad, but the book reads as though a lot of the research was simply cut and pasted from other sources. If you're a fan of Prince, read it.
Jul 19, 2012 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Nothing new, previously published information from interviews etc. Prince is talented and creative, that's what I wanted to read about.
M. Jackson
A dull read and Prince is not a dull individual.
Dec 12, 2011 rated it it was amazing
A mask will hide your face but not who you really are. Masks are worn to keep a person’s identity hidden, the focus on the mask itself and detract from the face that someone does not want seen. But, there are many other masks that hide people and not always are they ones we physically put on. Prince was a complicated young man and man from the start. He has many different personas, goals and friends that helped, hindered and worked with them to get where he is today. At times he felted shunned, ...more
Aug 17, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
even though I adore the music and talent of Prince Nelson. I can honestly say that I truly would not have liked being around him. But this book was horrific. I mean the first part was truly wonderful because it was the story of his life but once he became famous this author only wrote about the music the tours and the crazy management. No longer was Prince a person. Instead he was a commodity.
amanda white
If your a die hard Prince fan then it's worth a read, yes a lot of information I already knew but there was still some information I didn't. It goes up to before he started collaborating with 3rd eye girl so not up to his sudden passing. So if your interested in Prince I would say give it a read otherwise don't bother!
Mar 10, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Mar 05, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Being completely unbiased and objective, I'd probably give this 3 1/2 stars, but given the subject, I crave new facts, stories, theories, etc. Not the best-written of books, some of the author's album/song reviews came up short (claiming the song "Graffiti Bridge" grand and epic nearly disqualifies him from further comment), comparing certain songs to other songs (that I saw no similarities) and sometimes just rehashing/restating the songs lyrics. But, hey, it's 350+ pages of the Purple One. Goo ...more
Wes Hazard
Mar 02, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A solid, fairly comprehensive bio, written in clean and fairly clinical prose. As Prince himself wasn't involved in the project it includes extensive quotes from outside sources (other biographies, previously published articles and interviews, quotes from people Prince hasn't talked to in 20 years). If you're looking for a general biographical/artistic overview that covers everything from childhood-->the rise-->stardom-->name change-->renaissance I'd say go with this. It's basically ...more
Dave Schwensen
Jul 27, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Here’s an understatement: Prince has always remained a bit of a mystery even to his most loyal fans. For those of us on the more casual side of fandom, he’s almost an unknown. Of course we know his hit songs, the mega successful rock film “Purple Rain,” and his penchant for being different. For example, not every male rock or R&B star would choose bikini briefs and high heels for stage outfits or change his name to an unpronounceable symbol. For Prince, later known as The Artist Formerly Kno ...more
Prince. The name is legendary for many reasons. It's the next level before becoming a king. It was also the name of one of the most influential and memorable musicians of all time. He was a revolutionary and creative mind that challenged the industry's rules to a fault. Most information about Prince wasn't known until the author developed this book that chronicled his entire musical history. Prince was a quiet recluse man who mostly dealt with music in his head and created volumes of albums on a ...more
Jan 20, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: about-music
It's sort of cut and dry at times (and especially dry when it talks about Prince's 90's period) but Ro is obviously a serious researcher with a sincere interest in trying to at least give us some idea of who Prince Nelson is, and how he came to be that way. The first half of the book is definitely the best part, tracing Prince's beginnings as an immensely precocious, shy kid moving from one shaky domestic situation to another in Minneapolis. And then showing his remarkable, meteroic rise to the ...more
Jun 01, 2016 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: prince
Why are so many books on Prince so negative? If you believe Ronin Ro, Prince's career was just one flop after another-- Parade was a "low point", Sign O the Times "didn't do as well as was hoped", Lovesexy "led to calls of the end of his career", on and on and on. What the fuck is he talking about? All of these are masterworks! People talk about them in high regard all over the world! You'd think you could at least TRY to capture some of the unabashed joy of Prince's work in a book about him. Th ...more
Darren Mcgill
A worthy read for any Prince fan who would like a chronological, in-depth review of his ascension to fame, long tenure of hit albums, and his still prolific less-popular era. It's obvious the content is compiled from other sources with little new information or revelations. Still, it's an interesting synopsis of his career. All albums are covered most singles and album tracks are at least mentioned. All drama with Warner is covered along with his many subsequent deals with Capital, Arista, Colum ...more
James Biser
This is a good report about Prince, his genius, and his success. Although I am an admirer of Prince, I had not followed his press attentively enough to be aware of all of his exploits and successes. This volume presented them.

I was disappointed that the book did not include any report of details about his death. I also thought it gave very few personal details that would allow the readers to know Prince better. This volume was about re-stating the public knowledge of a media giant, and it did th
Dec 19, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
the facts were interesting but unfortunately that's almost all that Ronin Ro has to work with. It was great to get a full view of Prince's career and the obsessive drive which causes him to destroy business relationship after business relationship and ruin friendships.

Ro may have been able to make the work more interesting by moving from reporter to a more active involvement inserting his own attempts to get to the elusive character but doesn't. fun for interested casual fans but by no means a
May 11, 2016 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: own, remove-kindle
This books does not offer anything new or insightful about the artist or the man Prince. It is more a gathering of articles, facts, and interviews previously publish and available in the orginal publication sources. Now with the death of Prince I am sad to say he will forever be a mystery to the greater public. If anyone knows of a biography that provides insight please recommend.

If you young or not a huge prince fan it may be interesting to review his career in one book.
Henrik Richter Schie
Should have been proof read at least once before released. Lots of parts are repeated in other words with just a few pages between them, so the editor (if any) has done a poor job. The book was ok, and even quite good at times, although it's quite clear what parts of his career the author favors. Learned a few new facts about Prince wich I alway enjoy. Not bad, but not great either. Could have been really good if he had given it another read through before release.
Brenda Wegner
Jan 09, 2012 rated it it was ok
This was a lot of pages to read for no real insight into Prince's life. I don't think Ro was ever granted an interview from Prince, so the fact that he got as much information as he did was pretty remarkable. It focused on the music, as I suppose a book about a great musician should, but once we were past the parts about the earlier music that I really cared about, it was a tedious read.

May Ryan
3.5 stars. Talk about an extremely driven, uncompromising, innovative man. I wish I'd gotten the updated version with his life leading right up to his passing away. Hearing of all his accomplishments, I wonder if he'd gotten more sleep, he'd still be alive. We'll all keep wondering about something, I suppose.
Jay Gabler
Jan 07, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The irony of Prince: Inside the Music and the Masks is that despite the book's title, biographer Ronin Ro doesn't try too hard to peer behind Prince's many masks. In some ways, that's a good thing.
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