Country and folk icon John Prine has lost his battle with the coronavirus.
The 73-year-old Grammy winner passed away on Tuesday (07Apr20) at Nashville's Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Tennessee. Prine was hospitalised last month (Mar20) and placed in intensive care for 13 days after testing positive for COVID-19.
His wife and manager confirmed the news, explaining she and her husband had recently returned from a European tour.
She asked fans to pray for him last week (ends03Apr20), revealing Prine was "critically ill" after he was intubated on 28 March.
Joan Baez, Mark Hamill, Kevin Bacon, Jason Isbell, Patton Oswalt, Margo Price, and Bette Midler were among the stars who took to social media to wish the singer/songwriter well. Baez dedicated a YouTube performance of his song Hello In There, which she covered on her hit 1975 album Diamonds & Rust, to him.
Admired by Bob Dylan and Kris Kristofferson, among other folk and country icons, the former Illinois mailman was acclaimed as a songwriter for chronicling the real America, penning songs about loneliness (Hello In There), the trauma of war (Sam Stone), and the environment (Paradise).
Prine was also an author, actor, and the owner of Oh Boy Records in Nashville.
Always relevant, Prine was a Songwriters Hall of Famer, a Nashville Songwriters Hall of Famer, and the recipient of the 2016 PEN New England Song Lyrics of Literary Excellence Award. His 2018 album, The Tree of Forgiveness, was one of his biggest hits and bookended a career that began with the release of his eponymous debut in 1971.
Prine put his mailman career on hold in 1966 to join the U.S. Army, serving in Germany as a mechanical engineer. His military service prompted him to write Sam Stone, the song many believe to be his greatest - about a returning Vietnam veteran.
He returned to his native Illinois and became a hit on the Chicago folk scene, where Kris Kristofferson discovered the 20-something star in 1971 and invited him to join him onstage at the Bottom Line in New York - a show that scored Prine a deal with Atlantic Records.
His debut wasn't an immediate hit, but it helped land Prine a 1973 Best New Artist Grammy nomination - and Bette Midler recorded his song, Hello in There, for her debut, The Divine Miss M.
After three albums, John left Atlantic and signed to David Geffen’s Asylum label, releasing the classic album Bruised Orange in 1978. Four years later, he launched his own label, Oh Boy Records, and released another well-received album, Aimless Love, in 1984.
He met Fiona Whelan in Ireland in the late 1980s and she moved to Nashville to be with Prine.The couple wed in 1996. His marital bliss was short lived as Prine was diagnosed with stage 4 cancer in 1997. Doctors removed a tumour in early 1998, taking a portion of the singer’s neck with it, altering his physical appearance and leaving the star fearing he'd never sing again.
He returned to the stage 18 months later and toured steadily, recording the Grammy-winning Fair & Square in 2004.
Prine faced another cancer battle in 2013 but bounced back months later with a series of acclaimed shows and recorded The Tree of Forgiveness in 2018, after he was named the Americana Music Association’s Artist of the Year. The album picked up the best reviews of John's career.
Fittingly, he received a Lifetime Achievement Award in January (20), months after his long-overdue induction into the Songwriters Hall of Fame.