Luther Alumni Magazine

Biographer of the stars

Laura (Johnston) Tiebert '87

Writer Laura (Johnston) Tiebert ’87 says that when a story presents itself, it’s hard to say no. So when she found herself living just a couple of miles from Prince’s Paisley Park home in Chanhassen, Minn., at the time of the his death last year, she jumped on his story. The result? Tiebert has coauthored a biography of Prince Rogers Nelson with Alex Hahn titled The Rise of Prince: 1958–1988.

Tiebert is a longtime fan of Prince and his music. “Having been on Luther’s campus in the 1980s when Prince was huge, it felt like he was our guy,” she says. “We would road trip to Minneapolis and go to First Avenue. It felt like it was the center of the music world, and it was very cool to be connected with it.”

Last spring, she and her family moved from the Chicago area, and during early morning commutes to the health club, she noticed a building lit up purple. “Just as I was realizing, Oh my gosh, this is where Prince lives, he died. Moving boxes still filled our house and I went ripping through my boxes of books to find Hahn’s earlier biography of Prince, which my brother gave me for Christmas in 2003,” she recalls.

Tiebert's biography of Prince was released earlier this year.

A director of corporate communications for a New York company, working remotely, Tiebert has also authored travel guidebooks and ghostwritten books in the “For Dummies” series. Once a writer, always a writer, she says, and she emailed Hahn to offer her research and writing services for an updated biography. Their book was released early this year and is available on Amazon, with reviews averaging 4.5 stars.

Researching the book was a lot of fun, Tiebert says. She met with Prince’s childhood friends and they showed her around his former neighborhood. She and Hahn also read through court records and other documents to further understand the artist’s psychological development. “I wanted Prince to have a biography that was written at a level of professionalism that was equal to the professionalism he displayed in his career and in his life,” she says. “I feel that we did that.”