JOHN PRINE passed away yesterday due to complications from COVID-19. He was 73. He was hospitalized in March and spent 12 days in intensive care. He’s survived by his wife Fiona and their three children.
John started as a folk singer in the ’70s and was tight with the late Steve Goodman. They co- wrote the David Allan Coe classic “You Never Even Called Me by My Name”, but John chose to be uncredited because he considered it a novelty song.
John Prine had 15 albums on the Billboard 200 chart. His most recent was “The Tree of Forgiveness”, which went to Number Five in 2018. He was also an author, actor, record-label owner, and a member of the Songwriters Hall of Fame.
The Songwriters Hall of Famerwas nominated for 11 Grammy Awards and won two: The Missing Years was named Best Contemporary Folk Album in 1992 and Fair & Square took home Best Contemporary Folk Album in 2006. He’s penned and performed songs including “Sam Stone,” “Angel From Montgomery,” “Paradise,” “Hello In There,” “Illegal Smile,” “That’s The Way The World Goes ‘Round,” “Lake Marie,” “Fish And Whistle,” “Speed Of The Sound Of Loneliness,” “In Spite of Ourselves” and “I Just Want To Dance With You.”
Born in 1946 in suburban Chicago, Prine’s music career began in the late ’60s singing at open mic events at the Fifth Peg folk club, where he received his first rave review from Chicago Sun-Times movie critic Roger Ebert. After Kris Kristofferson gave him a spot at a show in New York – where he attracted record company interest – Prine released his 1971 self-titled debut album, which was later enshrined in the Grammy Hall of Fame. The project yielded “Sam Stone” (recorded by the likes of Johnny Cash), “Hello in There” (Bette Midler), “Angel from Montgomery” (Bonnie Raitt) and “Paradise” (John Denver). Prine co-founded Nashville’s longest operating indie label, Oh Boy Records, in 1981. He was named Artist of the Year by the Americana Music Association in 2017. In 2018, he released The Tree of Forgiveness, his first album of new songs since 2005. It earned three Grammy nominations: Americana Album and two American Roots Song entries. His songs have been covered by artists including Zac Brown Band, David Allan Coe, Carly Simon, Norah Jones, Miranda Lambert and George Strait, and he has replicated Kristofferson’s kindness by having young singer/songwriters like Jason Isbell, Margo Price and Sturgill Simpson open his concerts.
“Rolling Stone” has a great quote to describe his music: “Prine explored a wide variety of musical styles, from hard country to rockabilly to bluegrass. He liked to say that he tried to live in a space somewhere between his heroes Johnny Cash and [Bob] Dylan.”
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