John Prine, Music Legend and Songwriting Icon, Dies at 73


Legendary singer-songwriter John Prine died Tuesday, April 7 from complications of COVID-19. He was 73 years old.

Prine was an American treasure and revered as one of the great modern songwriters. After being discovered by Kris Kristofferson, Prine released his self-titled album in 1971, which included "Hello in There," "Sam Stone," "Illegal Smile" and "Angel From Montgomery," which was famously recorded by Bonnie Raitt and is considered one of Prine's many signature songs.

Prine also co-wrote David Allan Coe's "You Never Even Called Me By My Name" with his good friend Steve Goodman, a fellow member of the Chicago folk music scene.

Throughout his incredible career, Prine was an inspiration to both his peers and aspiring singer-songwriters in the Americana scene. Kristofferson, Bob Dylan and Johnny Cash named him among their favorite songwriters.

The folk singer and songwriting hero was a mentor to many in the Nashville scene, including Jason Isbell, Kacey Musgraves and Miranda Lambert. In 2019, Prine won Album of the Year at the Americana Music Honors and Awards. In 2020, he was given the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award.

Read More: The 10 Best John Prine Songs, Ranked

Prine's team took to social media on March 29 to announce that the Americana legend was hospitalized and in critical condition after having coronavirus symptoms.

"After a sudden onset of Covid-19 symptoms," read the Instagram post, "John was hospitalized on Thursday (3/26). He was intubated Saturday evening, and continues 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."

The news came less than two weeks after Prine's wife and business partner Fiona Prine's March 17 announcement that she'd tested positive for COVID-19. John was tested at the time, but his results came back as "indeterminate."

"There's a chance he may not have this virus, and we are working really, really hard and being really diligent about all of the protocols. We are quarantined and isolated from each other and members of the family," Fiona said at the time. "It's hard, I won't lie, but it's absolutely important."

Prine, who was a cancer survivor, and his wife, the former Fiona Whelan, ran the Nashville-based label Oh Boy Records, which released John's own music (including the Grammy-nominated 2018 album The Tree of Forgiveness) and, in the past year, music by country music outsider Kelsey Waldon and singer-songwriter Tre Burt. Prior releases include a live album by Kris Kristofferson.

Word of Prine's condition broke while Nashville reeled over the death of Grand Ole Opry member and Grammy winner Joe Diffie, the first mainstream country music star to pass away due to the novel coronavirus pandemic.

The Associated Press reports that public health officials stress hand washing with soap and water for 20 seconds and staying at home when possible as ways to prevent the pandemic's spread and to protect older adults, people with pre-existing health problems and other vulnerable populations.

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John Prine, Music Legend and Songwriting Icon, Dies at 73