Born and raised in Maywood, Illinois, Prine learned to play the guitar at the age of 14. Subsequently serving in West Germany with the U.S. armed forces, by the late 1960s he had moved to Chicago, where he worked as a postman, writing and singing songs as a hobby. Becoming a part of the city's folk revival, he was discovered by Kris Kristofferson, resulting in the production of Prine's self-titled debut album through Atlantic Records in 1971. After receiving critical acclaim, Prine focused on his musical career, recording three more albums for Atlantic. He then signed to Asylum Records, where he recorded an additional three albums.
In 1984 he co-founded Oh Boy Records, an independent record label with whom he would release most of his subsequent albums. After struggling with squamous cell cancer in 1998, Prine's vocals deepened into a gravel-voice, resulting in the award-winning album Fair & Square.
Widely cited as one of the most influential songwriters of his generation, Prine is known for humorous lyrics about love, life, and current events, as well as serious songs with social commentary, or which recollect melancholy tales from his life.
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