Prince had a problem with pop stars Ed Sheeran and Katy Perry

Prince performs at the Super Bowl XLI half-time show in 2007 in Miami.
(Chris O’Meara / Associated Press)

Amid a mountain of musings, Prince took aim at a couple of fellow pop stars who’ve been getting heavy airplay for years now.

“We need to tell them that they keep trying to ram Katy Perry and Ed Sheeran down our throats and we don’t like it no matter how many times they play it,” he wrote in a letter unearthed at his home after his death in 2016, apparently addressing the music industry in general.

The notes are part of “The Beautiful Ones,” a collection of the artist’s notes, clippings, photos, drawings and more assembled by superfan Dan Piepenbring, who was hired by Prince before his death to co-write a memoir. The period after getting the assignment was a “bizarre, three-month detour in my life, a strange and voluptuous period. And so surreal,” the writer told the Guardian.

Prince’s death changed the nature of the book, which came out Tuesday. Prince hadn’t decided on the format of the memoir, Piepenbring said, and the artist’s concept could change in the course of a single conversation.


At the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony in 2004, Prince walked on stage with fellow rock legends Tom Petty, Jeff Lynne and others to pay tribute to the late George Harrison with a cover of the Beatles’ “While My Guitar Gently Weeps.”

April 21, 2016

The pages Piepenbring was given access to, he told NPR, “were all alive with these cross-outs and revisions and erasures. ... They seemed the perfect testament to his creative process, which is something that he had wanted to bring across in the book.”

The Sheeran and Perry comments were a tiny part of what sounds like an amazing collection of minutiae from Prince’s life.

“The sheer quantity of paper was surprising. There was no real method to the madness,” Piepenbring told the Guardian. “In one room you’d find something from 1979, and within arm’s reach there’d be something from 2002.”

Only a few performers have written enough great songs that they could afford to give some away to other artists: Stevie Wonder, Bruce Springsteen, Lennon & McCartney, Missy Elliott, the Bee Gees, Chic and perhaps most of all, Prince.

June 7, 2019

“There’d be these moments of intense intentionality — he’d gathered up all his handwritten lyrics from across his career, clipped them together, and kept them in one place,” he added. “Or he’d gathered artifacts pertaining to his father’s jazz band. It seemed very ad hoc and very personal.”


Adding to the allure of Paisley Park’s vaults? Piepenbring had access to only some of the musician’s papers, which stretched back to his teen years, pre-curated by the estate.

“There are known unknowns,” the writer told the Guardian of what remains hidden, “and there are unknown unknowns.”