Folk music legend John Prine died today at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville. Prine’s family confirmed that he died of complications from COVID-19. Prine’s wife and manager Fiona had previously tested positive for COVID-19 before Prine was hospitalized “after a sudden onset of COVID-19 symptoms.” He was 73.
Prine had previously survived cancer twice, first squamous cell cancer of the neck in 1998, which damaged his vocal chords, then lung cancer in 2013.
Prine was a giant in the folk music world, winning two Best Contemporary Folk Album Grammys for The Missing Years (1992) and Fair & Square (2006). Throughout his career, Prine was honored by the Americana Music Awards, and inducted into the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame and the Songwriters Hall of Fame. He also garnered a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Recording Academy earlier this year. Prine was a massive influence on singer-songwriters across genres, including Justin Vernon, Bruce Springsteen and Margo Price (see below for social media posts about Prine from his fans and peers). Among his admirers were Johnny Cash, Roger Waters and Bob Dylan, who said of him in an interview, “Prine’s stuff is pure Proustian existentialism. Midwestern mindtrips to the nth degree. And he writes beautiful songs.”