John Prine dead at age 73 from coronavirus complications

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John Prine, one of the most influential artists in folk and country music, has died at age 73 following a battle with coronavirus, his family told The Associated Press and other outlets.

His family announced his death from complications from the coronavirus. He died at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, Tenn., where he had been hospitalized last month.

On March 29, Prine’s family shared the star was critically ill and had been placed on a ventilator while being treated for COVID-19-type symptoms.

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A message posted on Prine’s Twitter page said the “Angel from Montgomery” singer has been hospitalized since March 26 and his condition worsened on March 28.

This June 15, 2019 file photo shows John Prine performing at the Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival in Manchester, Tenn. 

This June 15, 2019 file photo shows John Prine performing at the Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival in Manchester, Tenn.  (Amy Harris/Invision/AP, File)

“This is hard news for us to share,” Prine’s family said at the time. “But so many of you have loved and supported John over the years, we wanted to let you know, and give you the chance to send on more of that love and support now. And know that we love you, and that John loves you.”

Prine’s wife and manager Fiona Whelan Prine said earlier in March that she had tested positive for the coronavirus. She said the couple was quarantined and isolated from each other.

Prine had previously fought cancer twice. Most recently, he was diagnosed with lung cancer in 2013 and had part of a lung removed. The surgeries affected his voice but Prine continued to make music and to tour. Before the onset of the virus, Prine had shows scheduled in May and a summer tour planned.

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The Illinois-born Grammy-winner was a 23-year-old mailman when he was playing at the Chicago folk club The Fifth Peg when young journalist Roger Ebert stopped by for a set. Ebert went on to write a glowing reveal for the Chicago Sun-Times, which kicked off Prine’s musical career.

Prine was previously singing his original songs every Thursday night for about two months. The first three songs Prine ever performed on stage was “Sam Stone,” “Hello in There” and “Paradise.”

“I sang those three songs and people just sat there and looked at me,” Prine once recalled. “I thought, ‘Wow, those are really bad. They wouldn’t even applaud.’”

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Kris Kristofferson not only became one of Prine’s early fans, but the two artists developed a decades-long friendship, as well as a touring collaboration over the years.

John Prine performs at John Anson Ford Amphitheatre on October 01, 2019 in Hollywood, Calif. 

John Prine performs at John Anson Ford Amphitheatre on October 01, 2019 in Hollywood, Calif.  (Rich Fury/Getty Images)

According to Prine’s official website, his songs would eventually be recorded by fellow notable figures, including Johnny Cash (“Sam Stone”), Bette Midler (“Hello in There”) and Bonnie Raitt (“Angel from Montgomery”). He’s also an uncredited co-writer on “You Never Even Call Me by My Name” and his songs have been cut by country stars like Zac Brown Band (“All the Best”), Miranda Lambert (“That’s the Way the World Goes Round”) and George Strait (“I Just Want to Dance with You”).

Prine won his first Grammy for the 1991 album, titled “The Missing Years.” He joined the Nashville Hall of Fame in 2003. In addition, the Grammy Hall of Fame inducted his 1971 self-titled album debut in 2014. Then two years later, he accepted the PEN New England’s Song Lyrics of Literary Excellence Award.

When Prine turned 70, he was hailed as Artist of the Year by the Americana Music Association in 2017. His last album, titled “The Tree of Forgiveness,” was released in 2018.

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“I kept saying when I was doing this album, it’s going to be my last one,” Prine shared, as noted by his website. “But if things go really good with it, I can’t see why I wouldn’t do something else.”

Prine is survived by his wife, Fiona Whelan, and their two sons Tommy and Jack.

The Associated Press contributed to this report