CHICAGO (CBS/AP) — Singer-songwriter and Chicago area native John Prine died this week at the age of 73, following a battle with COVID-19.
Prine’s wife and manager Fiona Whelan Prine last month said that she had tested positive for the coronavirus. She said the couple were quarantined and isolated from each other.
Prine, one of the most influential in folk and country music, had twice fought cancer. 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 had shows scheduled in May and a summer tour planned.
Prine was a native of west suburban Maywood, and launched his career in Chicago during the folk revival movement of the 1960s. He took classes as a young man at the Old Town School of Folk Music, and was a regular performer in nearby folk clubs.
Prine’s own website notes that in 1970, he was playing at a long-defunct Chicago folk club called The Fifth Peg, located on Armitage Avenue near the Old Town School’s Lincoln Park site that remains in operation to this day. It so happened that Roger Ebert dropped in.
“At the time, Prine was a 23-year-old mailman who had been singing his original songs every Thursday night for about two months,” Prine’s website says. “Ebert wrote a glowing review for the Chicago Sun-Times, essentially launching Prine’s music career.”
Prine’s best-known songs include “Angel from Montgomery,” “Paradise,” “Hello in There,” and “Sam Stone” – the last about a Vietnam soldier who dies of a drug overdose.
Prine won countless awards, including two Grammys. Just two weeks ago, Stephen Colbert showed a never-before-seen duet he recorded in 2016 with Prine of “That’s the Way the World Goes Round.”
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