NASHVILLE, Tenn.–Singer/songwriter John Prine died from coronavirus complications. He was 73.
Prine was born in Maywood, Illinois, a suburb of Chicago. Many of the mid-20th century experiences from his songs come from his experiences growing up in the industrial Midwest. But, his family roots are in Kentucky, where his parents were born, as stated in the song “Paradise”.
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Prine got a job as a mailman after military service and wrote songs to pass the time while he was walking his route. By the time he got the nerve to sing songs in front of an audience he had already composed classics like “Sam Stone”, “Hello in There”, and “Paradise”.
After being “discovered” by Kris Kristofferson, Prine was signed to Atlantic Records and released “John Prine”, which contained many of his best songs. He was an instant success with his peers like Bob Dylan, if not a success on the charts or in record sales.
In the early 1990s Prine formed Oh Boy Records and moved to Nashville to run the enterprise, eventually releasing work by Kristofferson on the label.
In 1998, Prine was diagnosed with cancer and had part of neck removed, which left him with a noticeable tilt to his head, which became more prominent with age. His treatment also changed his voice to a more gravelly and lower range.
Prine would later also experience a bout of lung cancer, which conceded may have resulted from 35 years of smoking, which he gave up after the 1998 incident.
Prine’s biggest commercial successes were in his later years. By the time “Fair and Square” was released in 2005, he’d become an icon of Americana music. His first top 10 album was “Tree of Forgiveness” in 2018.