Country music legend John Prine, known for his influential contributions to Americana music, passed away in Nashville from COVID-19 complications on Monday (April 6), Rolling Stone reports. He was 73.
Prine was hospitalised last month (March 26) with a “sudden onset” of coronavirus symptoms, with his status initially described as “critical”. He spent 13 days in intensive care before his death. Prine’s wife and manager Fiona also tested positive for the virus, but made a full recovery. The family is yet to release a statement, though they confirmed the news of Prine’s death to Rolling Stone.
Numerous musicians, including Bruce Springsteen, Bon Iver, Rosanne Cash, Jim James and Nils Lofgren, have paid tribute to Prine on social media.
Over here on E Street, we are crushed by the loss of John Prine. John and I were "New Dylans" together in the early 70s and he was never anything but the lovliest guy in the world. A true national treasure and a songwriter for the ages. We send our love and prayers to his family.
— Bruce Springsteen (@springsteen) April 8, 2020
The man looked at me and smiled.
I thought to myself
I’m so glad John got better.
A simple majority of who I am as a person, let alone a musician, is because of John prine.
He is my number 1.
I’m very very sad about all this.
I feel more Truly blessed than anything for Him
— blobtower (@blobtower) April 8, 2020
Just give me one thing I can hold on to. I'm just heartbroken. #johnprine
— rosanne cash (@rosannecash) April 8, 2020
#JohnPrine Farewell sweet man. There’s a hole in our hearts that we will never fill.
— Nils Lofgren (@nilslofgren) April 8, 2020
It hurts so bad to read the news. I am gutted. My hero is gone. My friend is gone. We’ll love you forever John Prine.
— Margo Price (@MissMargoPrice) April 8, 2020
john prine is as good as it gets. an honor to be alive during his time making work.
— jackantonoff (@jackantonoff) April 8, 2020
Prine was born in Maywood, Illinois on October 10, 1946. The future singer-songwriter was a mailman in his early adult life, and served in the army during the Vietnam War.
Prine rose to prominence in Chicago’s folk scene in the late 1960s, after an effusive review of an open mic performance from film critic Roger Ebert, and the glowing endorsement of Kris Kristofferson. Kristofferson championed the release of Prine’s self-titled debut in 1971, which grew more successful after Bette Midler, Joan Baez, Bonnie Raitt and the Everly Brothers released famous cover versions of its songs. Many of the songs from the record were written during Prine’s tenure as a mailman.
Bob Dylan was another early Prine fan, appearing himself unannounced at one of Prine’s first New York City appearances and anonymously backing him on harmonica. In 2009, Dylan said Prine was one of his favourite songwriters, telling an interviewer “Prine’s stuff is pure Proustian existentialism. Midwestern mind-trips to the Nth degree”.
Prine went on to release 18 studio albums in his five-decade strong career, with a resurgence in popularity with 2018’s ‘Tree of Forgiveness’. His first album of original material in 13 years, it charted at number five on the Billboard 200, the highest entry of Prine’s career.
Most of Prine’s albums were released on his own label, Oh Boy Records, founded in 1981 after he was dissatisfied with his experiences in the music industry.
Prine is survived by his wife Fiona, their son Jody, and his two other children of a previous marriage, Tommy and Jack Prine.