John Prine

Induction Year: 2003

Birth Name: John Edward Prine

Birth Date: 10-10-1946

Place of Birth: Maywood, Illinois

Death Date: 04-07-2020

Place of Death: Nashville, Tennessee

John Prine's place in the pantheon of great American songwriters was earned not by penning hits for others but by imbuing the characters that populate his songs with extraordinary resonance, humor and life.

"A truly original writer, unequaled, and a genuine poet of the American people" is how Poet Laureate (2004-2006) Ted Kooser described Prine in 2005. "He's taken ordinary people and made monuments of them, treating them with great respect and love."

Prine grew up in the Chicago-area neighborhood of Maywood, Illinois, though he spent influential summers in his parents' hometown of Paradise in western Kentucky. In the late 1960s, Prine began writing songs while out on his mail route for the U.S. Postal Service. By 1970, he had crafted a bag full of unusually affecting songs, including one about Paradise, Kentucky's demise at the hands of a coal company. In 1971, Prine's songwriting friend, Steve Goodman, was opening shows for Kris Kristofferson, and he brought Kristofferson to hear Prine after a show. Kristofferson helped Prine secure an Atlantic Records deal and wrote liner notes for his debut. "Twenty-four years old and writes like he's two hundred and twenty," raved Kristofferson in praising an album now widely accepted as a collection of roots-music standards. Others quickly took notice of Prine's debut, with major artists such as the Everly Brothers, Bette Midler, Joan Baez and Bonnie Raitt recording their own versions of the album's songs. Raitt's devastating "Angel From Montgomery" has been an every-night concert feature for her since 1974.

Prine continued writing songs that, while drawing acclaim from critics and a growing audience alike, fell outside of the sonic and lyrical parameters of mainstream radio. He didn't score a country radio hit until Don Williams took "Love is on a Roll" to the top of the charts in 1983. Prine, who had moved to Nashville in 1980, also co-wrote George Strait's 1986 smash, "I Just Want to Dance with You." Mostly, he remained focused on writing songs for himself and on maintaining his independent record label, Oh Boy Records.

Prine won a Grammy for his 1991 album, The Missing Years, and another for a 2005 album, Fair & Square. In 2005, he was named Artist of the Year at the Americana Music Honors & Awards, and his importance has been cited by such songwriting exemplars as Johnny Cash, Bob Dylan, Roger Waters and Tom T. Hall.

"All the Best"

John Prine1991 
My Morning Jacket2010 

"Angel from Montgomery"

John Prine1971 
Bonnie Raitt1974 
Tanya Tucker1978 
John Denver1973 
Ben Harper1992 
Carly Simon1995 
Susan Tedeschi1988 
Old Crow Medicine Show2010 

"Dear Abby"

John Prine1973 

"Fish and Whistle"

John Prine1978 
Jim Rooney1980 

"Grandpa was a Carpenter"

John Prine1973 
Nitty Gritty Dirt Band & John Prine1989 
Lonesome Standard Time1995 
Wayne Taylor2008 

"Hello in There"

John Prine1971 
Bette Midler1972 
Joan Baez1975 
David Allan Coe1983 
10,000 Maniacs1989 

"I Just Want to Dance with You"

(written with Roger Cook)

John Prine1986 
George Strait1998 #1 country, #61 pop

"Illegal Smile"

John Prine1971 
Serena Ryder2005 

"In Spite of Ourselves"

John Prine & Iris DeMent1999 

"Lake Marie"

John Prine1995 

"Long Monday"

(written with Keith Sykes)

Keith Sykes2004 
John Prine2005 
Tim Hensley2008 

"Love is on a Roll"

(written with Roger Cook)

Don Williams1983 #1 country


John Prine1971 
Jackie DeShannon1972 
John Denver1972 
The Seldom Scene1973 
The Everly Brothers1973 
Jim & Jesse1975 
Lynn Anderson1976 #26 country
Tom T. Hall1976 
Johnny Cash1982 
Pat Green & Cory Morrow2001 
String Cheese Incident2002 
Dwight Yoakam2004 
John Fogerty2009 

"Please Don't Bury Me"

John Prine1973 

"Sam Stone"

John Prine1971 
Swamp Dogg1972 
Al Kooper1973 
Evan Dando2001 
Laura Cantrell2004 


John Prine1972 
Maggie Bell1974 
Steve Goodman1983 
The Country Gentlemen1973 
Paul Westerberg (as Grandpaboy)2003 

"Speed of the Sound of Loneliness"

John Prine1986 
Kim Carnes1988 
Nanci Griffith1993 
Amos Lee2005 
Gove Scrivenor2006 

"That's the Way the World Goes 'Round"

John Prine1978 
Green on Red1989 
Norah Jones2004 
Miranda Lambert2009 

"The Late John Garfield Blues"

John Prine1972 
Kris Kristofferson1972 
Sara Watkins2010 

"Unwed Fathers"

(written with Bobby Braddock)

Tammy Wynette1983 #63 country
John Prine1984 
Gail Davies1985 #56 country
Johnny Cash1985 
Mollie & Tim O'Brien1988 

John Prine

Induction Year: 2003