John Prine Dead at 73 From Coronavirus
John Prine, the legendary folk and country singer-songwriter whose career impacts decades, has died at the age of 73 after battling the novel coronavirus (COVID-19).
Prine's family confirmed his death to Rolling Stone, saying he died on Tuesday (April 7) at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville from complications from the virus.
The news comes just over a week after Prine's family turned to social media to announce that he had contracted the virus. The iconic musician was hospitalized on Thursday, March 26, and in a statement on March 29, his family shared that he had been intubated on March 28 and was continuing to receive care, "but his situation is critical."
Born in Maywood, Ill., on Oct. 10, 1946, Prine learned to play guitar at the age of 14. He moved to Chicago in the 1960s after serving in the U.S. Army, and there he became a part of the folk scene while working as a mailman.
Kris Kristofferson discovered Prine, and he helped Prine score a deal with Atlantic Records. Prine's 1971 self-titled debut album met with widespread critical acclaim. That album contained some of his most beloved songs, including "Illegal Smile," "Paradise" and "Angel From Montgomery." Another of Prine's best-known songs was "You Never Even Called Me By My Name," which he wrote with Steve Goodman. David Allan Coe made the song into a classic, but it bore only Goodman's name, as Prine asked not to be credited, believing the song to be a novelty song that might offend the country music community.
Prine released a string of albums in the '70s and '80s, carving out his own unique niche that blended pathos, humor and social commentary. He founded his own record label, Oh Boy Records, in 1984 and continued to release albums and tour into his last years, releasing his final album, The Tree of Forgiveness, in 2018. His later years gave him a career revival as one of the forefathers of the Americana movement.
Prine's wife, Fiona Prine, disclosed on March 17 that she had been diagnosed with the coronavirus and that the couple were in quarantine, keeping their distance not only from the rest of their family, but also from one another. She and Prine both got tested after she experienced symptoms after they returned home from Europe. Prine's test came back indeterminate at that time.
She expressed concern for her husband due to his age and his medical history, which included bouts with cancer in 1999 and 2013, as well as heart surgery in 2019. In February, Prine canceled a show that was scheduled for April due to a hip injury.
The country music community has been hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic, which has resulted in the postponement or cancellation of major arena tours across the board. Prine is the second genre star to die after battling COVID-19; Joe Diffie, a breakout star in the '90s, died on March 29, the same day Prine's family disclosed his condition.
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