Singer-Songwriter John Prine Dead at 73 from Coronavirus Complications

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Singer-songwriter John Prine has died at age 73 from complications from the coronavirus. He died at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, Tennessee, says his family, who announced his death. During his five decade career he wrote classics such as “Angel From Montgomery,” “Hello in There,” “Dear Abby” and “Illegal Smile.”

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Read the full obituary at Associated Press

His wife Fiona said last month that she had tested positive for COVID-19 and she has since recovered, but her husband was hospitalized on March 26 with coronavirus symptoms. He was put on a ventilator and remained in the intensive care unit for several days.

Prine’s mischief shined in songs like “Illegal Smile,” which he swore wasn’t about marijuana; “Spanish Pipedream,” about a topless waitress with “something up her sleeve;” and “Dear Abby,” in which Prine imagines the advice columnist getting fed up with whiners and hypochondriacs.

Many others adopted his songs. Bonnie Raitt made a signature tune out of “Angel from Montgomery,” about the stifled dreams of a lonely housewife, and performed it at the 2020 Grammys ceremony. Bette Midler recorded “Hello in There,” Prine’s poignant take on old age. Prine wrote “Unwed Fathers” for Tammy Wynette, and “Love Is on a Roll” for Don Williams.

Prine’s songs were covered a lot, but not so much by singing show contestants. I suspect he didn’t always say yes to artists wishing to perform his songs.

However, there were a couple of The Voice contestants who performed “Angel From Montgomery,” including Marybeth Byrd of Team Blake Shelton in the fall of 2019. Season 13 runner-up Addison Agen sang the classic song for the Playoffs, while season 10 winner and runner up, Alisan Porter and Adam Wakefield sang it as a duet.

Here’s John Prine and Bonnie Raitt performing the song for the Americana Honors fall 2019.

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  1. Sympathies to his family, friends and fans. I was sorry to read about this loss to the music world; I know his catalogue has tracks that resonate with many people. Even though I don’t count myself a fan, I certainly knew who John Prine was…and regret that Covid-19 has been the agent behind this loss. RIP.

  2. Not to mention Joe Diffie & Ellis Marsalis Jr. We are going to lose our music royalty at an unprecedented rate thanks to COVID-19.

  3. This is very sad news. He was one of the most amazing songwriters in the history of modern music. #RIP

  4. “And your flag decal won’t get you into heaven anymore…”
    Rest assured, John went through those pearly gates with guitar in hand.

  5. A real tragedy. How many more people are we going to lose because of this goddamn virus? My heart and thoughts go to his family and fans. Rest in peace Mr. Prine.

  6. Embarassed to say, i only discovered him last night… after watching a marathon evening of John Prine related Youtube videos.. Super talented ‘Writer… ‘Singer, ..and Collaborator. RIP??

  7. Freaking brilliant songwriter – I was praying he would cheat death one last time – already did it twice with cancer battles…such s huge loss ?

  8. Unfortunately Beageles, you’re not the only one, he has slipped under the cracks for too many years, one of the brilliant songwriters of our time.

  9. “Freaking brilliant songwriter”
    absolutely,and as much as I love Angel from Montgomery, it is a shame that it’s the only song from John Prine that many people are familiar with> He was a national treasure one of the greatest songwriters of our time. Brandi Carlile did a tribute last night on the Stephen Colbert show singing Hello in There, and before she started the song she stated”now that he is gone, people are about to get a lot of truth dropped on them. It’s a shame that maybe in death, Mr. Prine will get the recognition he has always deserved. His peers certainly have known the truth for a very long time.

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