Prince: Before The Rain is a new book of photographs by Allen Beaulieu with a forward by Revolution guitarist Dez Dickerson. Beaulieu captured some of the most iconic images of Prince’s career, shot mostly between 1979 and 1983, including the photos that would become the album covers for Dirty Mind and Controversy, along with the photos that would be used as the inner sleeves of the 1999 album and various singles and EPs issued to promote the 1999 album.
The title Before The Rain perfectly describes this collection of photos, as we’re seeing the visual progression of Prince’s image leading up to the period just before he exploded with his biggest commercial success, Purple Rain.
This stunning collection of photos includes some amazing images that I’ve never seen before including outtakes from the Dirty Mind album cover photo session (including one photo in color), outtakes from the Controversy album cover session, outtakes from the neon bedroom shot that was used as an inner sleeve for the 1999 album, and live concert shots from 1979-83. There are also plenty of backstage and behind-the-scenes photos along with images that Beaulieu took of The Time, Vanity 6 and Jesse Johnson. There’s even a selection of photos from the October 9, 1981 concert performance in which Prince opened for the Rolling Stones and was booed off the stage. Obviously not a high point, but still part of Prince history, and a motivating fuel for the fire that would push Prince to work even harder to become one of the greatest performers of all time.
Jim Walsh’s written narrative describing Beaulieu’s collaboration with Prince provides fascinating insight into the working relationship between the photographer and the musician. Written contributions from Eloy Lasanta provide context surrounding the albums for which Beaulieu captured the now iconic album cover images.
When an artist like Prince passes away, there will always be critics that say these types of books are just cashing in, but in my opinion, when lovingly curated like this collection, these types of books are treasures. The images help illustrate visual chapters of Prince’s career and capture every dimension of his personality and persona, giving us additional insight into not just the artist, but the human being that he was. Similar pictorials from photographers Steve Parke (Picturing Prince: An Intimate Portrait) and Afshin Shahidi (Prince: A Private View) provide equally fascinating insight. I hope that we’ll see more collections like these, and when all of these pieces of the puzzle are assembled, we will see the most complete picture possible of the fascinating artist and human being that Prince was.
You can order Prince: Before The Rain from Amazon.com here: