Last week saw the passing of one of folk's greatest legends, as John Prine sadly died after contracting Coronavirus. In commemoration we share two personal appreciations of the great man by poet, musician and composer Michele Gazich & Professor of Cultural Studies at Ryukoku University Japan, Michael Furmanovsky.
Plus our founder Jill Furmanovsky has released a unique print of John Prime (photo above) to help raise funds to fight Covid-19. Each print from the limited edition of 50 is available for £150 (c.$160) and 50% of the proceeds from the sale of each print will be donated to Unicef's Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) emergency response appeal www.unicef.org/coronavirus/covid-19/donate to protect and support children and families affected by COVID-19. Please order your exclusive print here
Jill recalls, "When I went to the legendary 2004 Fleadh Festival I was working with Christy Moore and Damien Dempsey. Bob Dylan was playing too, but the buzz amongst musicians backstage was not about him this time, but rather about an artist I'd barely heard of, John Prine. Intrigued by their excitement, I made sure to catch his set.
Before the show I photographed John Prime backstage with his charming wife. They were gracious and friendly. He reminded me of a leprechaun - pint sized and joyful. Ron Wood was there too, overjoyed to hang out with this legend. As for the show, I'm in a zone when I shoot, but I can tell by how much film I shot and my commitment to recording every detail, that it absorbed me completely. This is the first time I've looked at that shoot and there are so many good images...this is one is one of my favourites.
Chrissie Hynde liked it so much she suggested I release it as a print through Rockarchive - a way to raise funds to tackle Coronavirus. Good idea CH!
My brother Michael knows a great deal about American and Japanese country music. He loves John Prine. I'd like to thank him for writing the words below. Finally, my fellow RA photographer Paolo Brillo, linked in his violinist friend, Michele Gazich to say a few words. Michele was lucky enough to play with John Prine in 2015."
Michael Furmanovsky, Professor of Cultural Studies at Ryukoku University, Kyoto, Japan
"Is there any way to add something new to the thousands of eulogies for the late John Prine, the Chicago mail delivery man who delivered a Mark Twain-level of insight into the human condition for 49.
Prine wrote perhaps 50 songs that are up there with Dylan, Simon, Diamond, Lightfoot, Browne and his much bigger-selling contemporaries. He also accomplished something that perhaps no other singer of his era did. And that was being to be either liked, or in most cases loved, by not most, but literally everyone who ever listened to his records or saw him in concert or laughed and cried at his story songs. It sounds like a cliche but John Prine really was “every singer-songwriter’s favorite singer songwriter. ”
Everyone gets a nice send off when they die but this guy really was a national treasure and earned the outpouring of accolades that briefly pushed the Covid-19 crisis itself off the headlines when he in fact finally succumbed to it. Ironically he died form the virus after surviving two bouts of cancer that left him disfigured but still performing and recording at the highest level. It is no more possible to choose a favorite Prine song as a Beatles or Dylan song. That is how good he was."
Michele Gazich, Musician, poet, composer, songwriter
"John Prine is gone, but his songs will stay with us forever. John died of COVID 19. My friend Mary Gauthier one time said: “It’s not so easy to kill John Prine”. She is right. John survived many other times and I had the wishful thinking that he could make it this time too.
I met him few years ago, at Tønder Festival in Denmark. Before the concert he was looking frail, I remember he was walking really slow, but once on stage, he was dancing like a boy, he was playing like hell his wonderful songs and he was having a lot of fun! W.B. Yeats wrote: “An aged man is but a paltry thing / A tattered coat upon a stick, unless / Soul claps its hands and sing, and louder sing / For every tatter in its mortal dress”. Perfect for John Prine. His soul through the years and through many diseases has sung louder and louder for every tatter in the body, the mortal dress! Now John is gone, but I can imagine him singing about that time when he was sick with COVID 19. I can see it! John on stage singing one of his great talking blues, telling us in a funny way about Coronavirus..."