John Prine (October 10, 1946 – April 7, 2020) was an American country folk singer-songwriter. He was active as a composer, recording artist, and live performer from the early 1970s until his death and was known for an often humorous style of original music that has elements of protest and social commentary.
Born and raised in Maywood, Illinois, Prine learned to play the guitar at the age of 14. He attended classes at Chicago's Old Town School of Folk Music. After serving in West Germany with the U.S. Army, he returned to Chicago in the late 1960s, where he worked as a mailman, writing and singing songs first as a hobby, and then becoming a club performer.
A member of Chicago's folk revival, Prine credited film critic Roger Ebert and singer-songwriter Kris Kristofferson with discovering him, resulting in the production of Prine's eponymous debut album with Atlantic Records in 1971. The acclaim earned by this LP led Prine to focus on his musical career, and he recorded three more albums for Atlantic. He then signed with Asylum Records, where he recorded an additional three albums. In 1981, he co-founded Oh Boy Records, an independent record label with which he would release most of his subsequent albums.
Widely cited as one of the most influential songwriters of his generation, Prine was known for humorous lyrics about love, life, and current events, as well as serious songs with social commentary and songs that recollect melancholy tales from his life. In 2020, he received the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award.
On March 19, 2020, amid the coronavirus pandemic in the United States, Prine's wife Fiona revealed that she had tested positive for the SARS-CoV-2 and had been quarantined in their home apart from him. He was hospitalized on March 26 after experiencing COVID-19 symptoms. On March 30, Fiona tweeted that she had recovered and that John was in stable condition but not improving. Prine died on April 7, 2020, of complications caused by COVID-19.
In accordance with Prine's wishes as expressed in his song "Paradise", half of his ashes were spread in Kentucky's Green River. The other half were buried next to his parents in Chicago.