John Prine, who established himself as one of America’s deftest and most affecting singer-songwriters over the course of a near 50-year career, has died from complications of coronavirus. He was 73.
His publicist confirmed his death on Tuesday (local time) on behalf of his family. Prine had been in the hospital since March, and it was announced that he had tested positive for COVID-19 on March 17.
Bruce Springsteen was one of many to mourn Prine, describing him as a “national treasure and a songwriter for the ages” in a social media post.
Other tributes followed from a diverse array of stars, including Bonnie Rait, Stephen Colbert, Sheryl Crowe and Seth Meyers.
Prine was never a huge seller: The top-charting record of his early career, 1975’s Common Sense, peaked at No.66, and he did not reach the American top 10 until 2018.
He won four Grammy awards, including a life-time achievement honour earlier in 2020.
But he was universally recognised by his peers as a gifted and distinctive songsmith who put his numbers across in a furry drawl that mated rich homespun humour, sharp narrative detail and deep warmth and poignancy.
Prine was inducted into the Songwriters’ Hall of Fame in 2019.
In spite of a multitude of health setbacks later in life, Prine always maintained the sense of humour that characterised much of his best work.
He is survived by his third wife Fiona Whelan and their sons, Tommy and Jack.