John Prine

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About John Prine

John Prine kicked off his career in a 1970s musical landscape that overflowed with game-changing singer/songwriters, but he still managed to become known as one of his generation’s most powerful song poets. Born in Maywood, IL, in 1946, he learned about folk and country music at Chicago’s Old Town School of Folk Music as a teen and started playing around the city’s folk clubs in 1969. With the support of Kris Kristofferson, Prine landed a record deal and released his self-titled debut LP in 1971. A milestone effort containing compassionate, plainspokenly poetic future classics about dissatisfied wives (“Angel From Montgomery”), heroin-addicted Vietnam vets (“Sam Stone”), and lonely senior citizens (“Hello In There”), it quickly made Prine a cult hero. His wry humor, rootsy flavor, and rough-hewn vocal style put his messages over perfectly. Prine’s quirky work never broke through to the mainstream, but there was never a time when he wasn’t considered one of America’s finest songwriters. From the early ’70s to the present, his songs have been widely covered, with Bonnie Raitt, Johnny Cash, Miranda Lambert, and countless others expanding on his legacy. Prine had a long run of impactful albums that took him through the mid-’90s, but he didn’t release any original material between 1995 and 2005 (though he made celebrated records of covers and duets). He came roaring back to form with 2005’s Grammy-winning Fair and Square, and, after battling health problems, he released one more album of new songs, 2018’s The Tree of Forgiveness. He was awarded a Lifetime Achievement Grammy shortly before his death on March 19, 2020, due to complications from COVID-19.

Maywood, IL, United States
October 10, 1946
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