John Prine, a country/folk legend, two-time cancer survivor, and U.S. Army veteran, passed away from complications of coronavirus on Tuesday, April 7. He was 73 years old. Prine’s family confirmed his death to Rolling Stone.
Before his death, Prine’s family revealed on Twitter that he was in “critical condition” and had been hospitalized since Thursday, (March 26) after coming down with symptoms synonymous with the coronavirus.
“After a sudden onset of COVID-19 symptoms, John was hospitalized on Thursday (3/26),” the statement, posted to social media on Sunday (March 29) reads. “He was intubated Saturday evening, and continued to receive care, but his situation is critical.”
“This is hard news for us to share,” the statement continued. “But so many of you have loved and supported John over the years, we wanted to let you know, and give you the chance to send on more of that love and support now. And know that we love you, and John loves you.”
Widely regarded as one of the most influential songwriters of his generation, Prine used his witty sense of humor and heartfelt perspective to come up with signature tunes like “Angel from Montgomery,” “Illegal Smile,” “Sam Stone,” “Paradise” and “Lake Marie.” In 2019, he joined the Songwriters Hall of Fame and became the recipient of the Recording Academy’s Lifetime Achievement Award in 2020.
Prine is a two-time Grammy winner. He won for Best Contemporary Folk Album in 1991 for The Missing Years and repeated that success in 2006 with Fair & Square.
Born on October 10, 1946 in Maywood, Illinois, Prine learned how to play guitar from his brother, David. In the late ’60s, he began forging a career in music while working as a postman in Chicago. When he wasn’t at the Old Town School of Folk Music, he’d perform at various local venues, including the former folk club, Fifth Peg, where he was discovered by a young journalist named Roger Ebert.
Ebert created a buzz on Prine’s music, writing a glowing review on him for the Chicago Sun-Times. But it was Kris Kristofferson who played an instrumental role in helping Prine land his first record deal with Atlantic Records. Prine released four albums with Atlantic, including his self-titled debut record, before he went onto produce more albums via his own Oh Boy Records.
In a nearly 50-year career span, Prine, whose songs have been recorded by Johnny Cash, George Strait, Miranda Lambert, Zac Brown Band, and many others, has produced 23 albums including, his final project, Tree of Forgiveness, which debuted at No.5 on the Billboard 200 chart.
On March 17, Prine’s wife, Fiona Whelan Prine, also announced she had tested positive for coronavirus. She shared a video on Instagram, revealing her diagnosis, adding that her husband also got tested. His test came back “indeterminate.” From there, both Fiona and Prine were quarantined and isolated from each other.
Prine successfully battled cancer twice, in 1998 and 2013. Most recently, he was diagnosed with lung cancer and had a part of his lung removed. Even though surgery altered his voice, Prine continued to tour. Before the onset of his coronavirus-like symptoms, he had confirmed tour dates throughout 2020.
Prine’s death comes after news of Joe Diffie’s passing from coronavirus on Saturday (March 28). Country Now sends its condolences to the Prine family at this time.