Prine, John

John Prine is a critically acclaimed singer/songwriter who has gone from solo acoustic folk to hard country to rockabilly to soft rock, all the while maintaining his hardheaded vision of white proletarian America.

Prine learned guitar from his father and played the Chicago coffeehouse circuit while working at the post office. With his friend and sometime production cohort Steve Goodman, Prine graduated from the Chicago folk scene. Paul Anka liked some of Prine's Hank Williams–influenced songs and was instrumental in landing him a recording contract. In 1971 Prine went to Memphis and cut his debut. That LP's most notable song may have been "Sam Stone," a bleak portrait of a drug-addicted Vietnam veteran, which aptly demonstrated Prine's laconic, drawling delivery.

Though his own commercial success was meager, other artists began recording his songs: the Everly Brothers did "Paradise," and both Joan Baez and Bette Midler recorded "Hello in There." Common Sense saw Prine shocking his folk audience by using hard-rock rhythms and a guttural singing style. Bruised Orange, produced by Goodman, returned Prine to the acoustic format ofDiamonds in the Rough, while Pink Cadillac was an electric rockabilly album produced by Sam Phillips and his son Knox at Sun Studios.