LOS ANGELES: Country folk singer John Prine, who received a Grammy lifetime achievement award this year, passed away due to complications of coronavirus. He was 73.
Prine died on Tuesday, confirmed the singer-songwriter's publicist while representing his family. "Yes, we can confirm on behalf of the Prine family, John died today at Vanderbilt due to complications of Covid-19," the publicist told cnn.com.
The musician was hospitalised and intubated last month after a "sudden onset" of coronavirus symptoms, according to a family statement posted on his verified Twitter account. "This is hard news for us to share. But so many of you have loved and supported John over the years, we wanted to let you know, and give you the chance to send on more of that love and support now. And know that we love you, and John loves you," the statement read.
Prine never had a hit single or a blockbuster album. But he built a devoted following, won several Grammys and overcame two bouts of cancer to record and tour into his 70s. Singer Sheryl Crow wrote on Twitter: "He is singing with the angels. You will be missed but your songs will live on."
Singer Johnny Cash, in his memoir, named Prine as one of his four key songwriting inspirations. "There's a huge hole in the music world tonight. John did it best," country singer Toby Keith wrote on Twitter.
Rolling Stone once tagged Prine "the Mark Twain of American songwriting."
Prine grew up in the suburb of Chicago and was famously working as a postal carrier when his musical career took off in 1970. He was singing on open-mic nights at a bar when then a reporter heard him play and wrote a favourable review, calling him the "Singing Mailman."
Singer-songwriter Kris Kristofferson, helped him get a record deal.
Bruce Springsteen wrote on Twitter following Prine's death: "John and I were 'New Dylans' together in the early 70s and he was never anything but the loveliest guy in the world. A true national treasure and a songwriter for the ages. We send our love and prayers to his family."
Prine's debut album, in 1971, was a critical success. It contains several of his signature songs, including "Paradise," about the Western Kentucky town where his parents grew up, and "Hello in There," a tribute to senior people.
Prine released many albums and toured steadily over the next two decades until a health scare cropped up. In 1996, the singer was diagnosed with Stage 3 neck cancer, which required surgeons to remove a piece of his neck.
The surgery also severed nerves in his tongue and changed the tone of his voice, which led him to take more than a year before he could perform again. Over the years Prine's songs have been covered by a wide range of artists, from Bonnie Raitt and Bette Midler to John Fogerty, the Zac Brown Band and My Morning Jacket.
In 2005, Prine became the first singer/songwriter to perform at the Library of Congress -- one of several literary honours for a songwriter whose best songs blended poetry with back-porch storytelling. Prine was again diagnosed with cancer in 2013, when he had successful surgery to remove a spot in his left lung.