Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
The son of William Prine and Verna Hamm, he emerged in 1971 with a highly acclaimed debut album titled John Prine. He and friend Steve Goodman (another folk singer/songwriter) had been minor stars in the Chicago folk scene before being "discovered" by Kris Kristofferson. The album John Prine included his signature songs "Illegal Smile", "Sam Stone", and the environmentalist newgrass standard "Paradise". The album also included "Hello In There", a song about aging that was later covered by Bette Midler, and "Angel From Montgomery", a song now more associated with Bonnie Raitt, who occasionally brings Prine on-stage with her for live performances of the song. The album received many positive reviews, and some hailed Prine as "the next Dylan".
Having penned such uniquely humorous and sentimental songs to such acclaim in his early 20s, he set a standard that was difficult to match. Later albums include Sweet Revenge (containing such Prine fan favorites as "Dear Abby", "Grandpa Was A Carpenter", and "Christmas In Prison"), and Common Sense (with "Come Back To Us Barbara Lewis Hare-Krishna Beauregard").
His album, The Missing Years is named after one of its songs, "Jesus: The Missing Years", Prine's bemused take on what Jesus did in the decade or two between his childhood and his ministry, a time the Gospels do not record. This album won Prine the Grammy Award he had long wanted, and established him as one of the leading voices in contemporary folk music.
He won the Grammy Award for Best Contemporary Folk Album in 1992 for his album, The Missing Years. In the mid-1990s, he battled and overcame cancer, releasing an album of new songs in 1995. In 1997 Prine released In Spite of Ourselves, a compilation of mostly classic country duets with the top female country singers of the time including Lucinda Williams and Iris DeMent (Prine was largely responsible for bringing DeMent to a national audience).
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