John Prine

October 10, 1946 - April 7, 2020

John Prine Artistfacts

  • The country/folk singer-songwriter was born in Maywood, Illinois, where he began writing songs and playing the guitar at age 14.
  • Songwriting was a hobby for Prine, who was working as a mailman and only playing gigs to have fun and impress the ladies. But he caught Kris Kristofferson's eye instead. The singer recalls his first impression of Prine at a Chicago performance: "He's 24 years old and he writes like he's 220."
  • Prine was drafted into the Army and served in Germany for two years during the Vietnam War.
  • Songs like "Sam Stone," about a drug-addicted war veteran, came out of Prine's military experience, but also gave people the false impression that he was a protest singer. "A lot of people when I started out thought I was singing protest songs, only because I was singing about social issues, but it just so happened that was what was going on," said Prine. "At the time, things around were very political. It's not that I was trying to be political – but that was what people were talking about and that's what the songs were about. It turned me off when people labeled me a protest singer. As a matter of fact I thought there were very human things which people could relate to regardless of how they felt politically – I had a feller from the Young Conservatives Party [sic] come up to me after a show (this was one of the nicest compliments I ever got) – he said 'I really wish you were on our side.' I said 'I am, I am!' He didn't understand. He missed the whole show!"
  • In an interview with Bruce Pollock, Prine talked about songwriting: "A lot of stuff has come out of just writing a couple of pages and rambling on, going from one mood right into another. Then I put it away and if I wait long enough I pull it back out and the good lines stay there and the others just fall right off the page. You can't tell the good lines from the bad lines right at first sometimes - it's a matter of editing."
  • Bob Dylan has called Prine one of his favorite songwriters, telling the Huffington Post, "Prine's stuff is pure Proustian existentialism."
  • He was diagnosed with squamous cell cancer in 1998 and underwent neck surgery that added a rough edge to his voice.
  • He was a good friend of the late singer-songwriter Steve Goodman, whom he met playing open mics in Chicago early in his career. Goodman would contribute guitar and backing vocals to many of Prine's albums.
  • After releasing an album, he would wait a few months before writing any more songs because he felt the need to perform songs as soon as they were written.
  • Prine died on April 7, 2020 at 73 after contracting coronavirus.

Comments: 2

  • Randy Pearson from OklahomaPrime is as good as anybody.He is on the same level as Dylan and Kristophersson. He just never got the credit...I play his songs on my guitar constantly...
  • Rod from Henrietta N.y.A song writing Genius with a soft and compassionate soul.
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