Singer-songwriter John Prine was born on October 10, 1946 in Maywood, Illinois. Born into a music-making family, Prine began playing guitar at age 14. By his early 20s, he was living in Chicago and entrenched in the city's folk music scene. In 1971, Prine put out his self-titled debut album, which earned critical praise and helped pave the way for a career that has spanned more than four decades.
The grandson of a musician, singer-songwriter John Prine was born on October 10, 1946 in Maywood, Illinois. His grandfather was a guitar player for country-western star Merle Travis. His grandfather's talents were evidently passed down to Prine, who began playing guitar at the age of 14.
Following a two-year stint in the Army, Prine moved to Chicago, where he immersed himself in the city's folk music scene. His sound and style eventually caught the attention of Kris Kristofferson, who helped his new friend land a record contract.
In 1971, Prine released his self-titled debut album, which features the critically lauded song "Sam Stone," an account of a drug-infused Vietnam. The album was adored by critics, but never enjoyed much commercial success. The same held true for his follow-up albums, Diamonds in the Rough (1972) and Sweet Revenge (1973).
In 1975, Prine released Common Sense, which offered his fans a heavier sound than they were accustomed to with his music. Backed by the popular song "Come Back to Us Barbara Lewis Hare Krishna Beauregard," the record cracked the Billboard 100 chart. In the years since, Prine's career has continued on a similar trajectory. His albums haven't been overwhelming sellers, but they've managed to attract a dedicated following of fans who adore his music and songwriting.
Along the way, Prine has shown an ability to adapt and change. In the early 1980s, after getting dropped from his label, Asylum Records, Prine picked up the pieces and started his own recording company, Oh Boy Records. In 1991, he released the Grammy-winning LP The Missing Years, with guest appearances by Bruce Springsteen, Tom Petty and Bonnie Raitt, among others. The album went on to sell more than 250,000 copies.
In recent years, Prine has maintained a steady recording career. His 2005 album of new material, Fair and Square, earned Prine a Grammy Award for best contemporary folk album. Prine's 2007 release, Standard Songs for Average People, recorded with guitarist Mac Wiseman, offers his fans a collection of country and folk classics. In 2010, Prine put out In Person and On Stage, an album of live performances of his songs.
In 1998, Prine received a serious health scare—he was diagnosed with squamous cell carcinoma, a cancer that had formed on the side of his neck. Surgery and radiation treatment soon followed. Prine made a full recovery and was able to complete his 1999 album, In Spite of Ourselves.
John Prine resides in Nashville with his wife, Fiona Whelan.
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