The country music community is in mourning right now.
On Tuesday (April 7), the legendary singer-songwriter John Prine passed away due to complications associated with coronavirus (COVID-19). John had been in the ICU since March 26, and was intubated on March 28.
His family issued a statement the following day (March 29) to let fans know about his hospitalization. At the time, John’s condition was described as “critical.”
John’s wife, Fiona, kept fans updated in the days that followed. Although she said he was “stable,” she clarified, “That is not the same as improving.”
In her last update before John’s death, Fiona expressed hope he’d be able to return home. “He is very ill and yet I remain hopeful that he can continue to fight this devastating virus and come home where we can care for him,” she wrote.
Along with her update, Fiona shared a cartoon by artist Rick Maynard. The cartoon shows an angel standing over John’s hospital bed, with the angel saying, “I’ll keep an eye on this one. I’m from Montgomery.”
View this post on Instagram
#repost @fprine ・・・ This is John’s 8th day in ICU . He is receiving excellent medical care and being treated with kindness and compassion by the entire team looking after him day and night. I cannot be with him which makes this nightmare all the more distressing for me. As you know, John was put on a ventilator last Saturday. He still needs quite a bit of help with his breathing. Like many patients currently in ICU beds all around the world, John has pneumonia in both lungs. He has also developed some peripheral issues that are being treated with meds, including antibiotics. He is very ill and yet I remain hopeful that he can continue to fight this devastating virus and come home where we can care for him. I don’t have the words to adequately Thank You all for the outpouring of love and prayers that John and our family has received this last week. It means the world to us to have your love and support at this difficult time. On behalf of me and our boys- Jody Jack and Tommy – please know that we are keeping you all in our hearts with a prayer that you stay safe and healthy. Please continue to send Love, Prayers and Positive Energy to John. He needs us now more than ever.John loves you and I love you too.??❤️? Cartoon by Rick Maynard
The cartoon references John’s famous song, “Angel from Montgomery,” which he wrote. It first appeared on his 1971 self-titled album, and went on to be covered many times.
John Denver, Tanya Tucker, Old Crow Medicine Show, and Maren Morris are just a few artists who have recorded “Angel from Montgomery” through the years. But the most recognizable cover came from Bonnie Raitt.
Bonnie recorded “Angel from Montgomery” for her 1974 album Streetlights. Her cover was the first to receive major recognition, and it remains one of her signature pieces.
In a 2000 interview, Bonnie spoke about how much the song meant to her, and praised John as a songwriter:
“I think ‘Angel from Montgomery’ probably has meant more to my fans and my body of work than any other song, and it will historically be considered one of the most important ones I’ve ever recorded,” she said. “It’s just such a tender way of expressing that sentiment of longing – like ‘Hello in There’ – without being maudlin or obvious. It has all the different shadings of love and regret and longing. It’s a perfect expression from [a] wonderful genius.”
Bonnie and John remained close through the years, and even performed “Angel from Montgomery” as a duet.
So when Bonnie heard the news that John had passed away, she was understandably devastated. Taking to Twitter, Bonnie said she was “crushed” to learn about his death.
“Words can’t even come close,” she said.
Words can't even come close.
I'm crushed by the loss of my dear friend, John. My heart and love go out to Fiona and all the family. For all of us whose hearts are breaking, we will keep singing his songs and holding him near. @JohnPrineMusic
— Bonnie Raitt (@TheBonnieRaitt) April 8, 2020
She went on to send her love to Fiona and John’s other family members.
“For all of us whose hearts are breaking, we will keep singing his songs and holding him near,” Bonnie wrote at the end of her message.
She’s right…even though John is no longer with us, he lives on through the songs he left behind. Remember him by watching him sing “Angel from Montgomery” with Bonnie at the Americana 18th Annual Honors, which just aired in November 2019.
Little did Bonnie know that would be one of the last times she’d ever see John. He’ll be so dearly missed by her, and by all of us.