John Prine

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Biography

John Edward Prine (/praɪn/; October 10, 1946 – April 7, 2020) was an American singer-songwriter of country-folk music. He was active as a composer, recording artist, live performer, and occasional actor from the early 1970s until his death. He was known for an often humorous style of original music that has elements of protest and social commentary. Born and raised in Maywood, Illinois, Prine learned to play the guitar at age 14. He attended classes at Chicago's Old Town School of Folk Music. After serving in West Germany with the U.S. Army, he returned to Chicago in the late 1960s, where he worked as a mailman, writing and singing songs first as a hobby and then as a club performer. A member of Chicago's folk revival, Prine credited his fellow songwriter Steve Goodman with hounding singer-songwriter Kris Kristofferson to come listen to him, leading to his "discovering" him, resulting in Prine's eponymous debut album with Atlantic Records in 1971. Film critic Roger Ebert was also among his early supporters. The acclaim Prine earned from his first LP led to three more albums for Atlantic. He then signed with Asylum Records, where he recorded three more albums. In 1981, he co-founded Oh Boy Records, an independent label where he released most of his subsequent albums. Widely cited as one of the most influential songwriters of his generation, Prine was known for humorous lyrics about love, life, and current events, as well as serious songs with social commentary and songs that recollect sometimes melancholy tales from his life. According to Nobel laureate songwriter Bob Dylan, "Prine's stuff is pure Proustian existentialism. Midwestern mindtrips to the nth degree. And he writes beautiful songs. . . . All that stuff about 'Sam Stone', the soldier junkie daddy, and 'Donald and Lydia', where people make love from ten miles away. Nobody but Prine could write like that." In 2020, Prine received the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award.

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