Prine battled serious illnesses two other times over the years. In 1998, he had surgery to remove cancer from the right side of his neck. The operation severed some nerves in his tongue and radiation damaged his salivary glands, and speech therapy was needed before he could resume performing.
In 2013, Prine again underwent surgery, to remove cancer from his left lung.
On April 6, the couple's 24th wedding anniversary, Fiona posted a loving message to John, including, "my only prayer today is that he can feel my love surrounding him."
Prine is one of the most revered songwriters of his generation, a former mailman from Maywood, Illinois, who was discovered by Kris Kristofferson in the early 1970s.
His self-titled debut in 1971 contains many of the thoughtful folk gems most associated with his songwriting legacy – “Sam Stone,” “Paradise,” “Hello in There” and “Angel from Montgomery,” a song covered by artists as varied as Carly Simon, Bonnie Raitt and Cameo.
The two-time Grammy Award winner (three including 2020’s Lifetime Achievement award) continued to tour regularly, having performed in January at the renowned 30A Songwriter’s Festival in Florida. He also played a handful of dates in Europe in February.
Prine was booked to perform at the now-canceled Shaky Boots Festival in May.
His last performance in Atlanta took place in April 2019 at Symphony Hall during “The Tree of Forgiveness” tour. The album of the same name, released in April 2018, was his first in 13 years and includes guest shots from Jason Isbell, Amanda Shires, Brandi Carlile and Dan Auerbach.
“The Tree of Forgiveness” reached No. 5 on the Billboard 200 album chart and topped the Billboard folk chart, making it the highest-charting album of Prine’s career.