John Prine was born in Maywood, Illinois, in 1946 but grew up in Chicago. There, he attended Old Town School of Fold Music. Soon after graduation, his number came up in the draft. He left Chicago for Germany where he worked as an Army mechanic. While in Germany, he asked his dad to mail his guitar. Once it arrived, Prine spent his evenings in the barracks playing and singing all the songs he knew. He never imagined he could make a living as a singer and songwriter.

Following his service, Prine returned to Chicago where he worked as a mail carrier. While he walked his mail route during the day, he composed songs in his head and then spent his nights at a bar called Fifth Peg. He went on stage on a dare, but the crowd loved him. The bar’s owner asked him to perform weekly. Critics noticed him, and in 1971, he released his first album.

Rolling Stone once called him the Mark Twain of American songwriting. His career in music spanned 40 years. He lived in Nashville with his wife Fiona and their three sons, Jack, Tommy and Jody.

Prine passed away April 7, 2020.

We honor his service.

Nominate a Veteran for #VeteranOfTheDay

Do you want to light up the face of a special Veteran? Have you been wondering how to tell your Veteran they are special to you? VA’s #VeteranOfTheDay social media feature is an opportunity to highlight your Veteran and his/her service.

It’s easy to nominate a Veteran. Visit our blog post about nominating to learn how to create the best submission.


Editor: Michelle Cannon

Fact checker: Brett Raffish

Graphic artist: Ben Pekkanen

Share this story

Published on Apr. 17, 2020

Estimated reading time is 1.4 min.

Views to date: 540


  1. Senior Veterans Care Network April 21, 2020 at 11:38 am

    We honor the service of John Prine.

  2. Lloyd Santee April 17, 2020 at 11:16 pm

    “Lest We Never Forget…”

Comments are closed.

More Stories

  • Navy Veteran Calvin Leon Graham became the youngest World War II soldier at the age of 12, and the youngest recipient of the Purple Heart and Bronze Star.

  • Today’s #VeteranOfTheDay is Army Air Forces Veteran Horace Poolaw, who became a well-known photographer of Native American life.

  • Today’s #VeteranOfTheDay is Army Veteran Deborah Jo Pereira, who enlisted in the military at a unique time in her life and in American history.