Louisville family of John Prine discusses his legacy after COVID-19 death

Louisville family of John Prine discusses his legacy after COVID-19 death

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - Singer-songwriter John Prine, 73, died Tuesday after suffering complications from the coronavirus.

Some knew him for his unique voice and storytelling that earned him a lifetime achievement Grammy Award this year, but others, including some in Louisville, knew him as family.

Prine was set to perform in Louisville next month.

His cousin, Gary Polsgrove, said he’s sad he won’t get to see him again, but his legacy is still alive and well.

Sitting on their back deck Wednesday, Polsgrove and his wife Minette listened to his music, in a way, still with Prine.

"A highly intelligent man that put his heart into words through his storytelling," she said.

Polsgrove said he remembers Prine as funny and kind-hearted.

“When my brother died, when my mom died, when I had cancer, John was always the first phone call,” he said.

Gary said he and John played music in his backyard together when his brother passed away.

He said seeing Prine rise from his humble beginnings as a postman who wrote songs on his route to an award-winning musician was surreal, almost as unreal as losing him to coronavirus.

"When it's just weeks where you go from being perfectly healthy, in a sense, to being dead, I don't know how you deal with something like that," Gary said.

Now, pictures from a family album help tell the stories Prine was so good at telling. Gary said the loss has made him even more serious about protecting himself against COVID-19.

“I see the numbers on TV like we all do,” he said. “Those were just numbers to me. Now, I see those numbers, and I go, ‘That family is so devastated right now.’"

Minette said she hopes Prine’s story will help others understand what’s at stake.

"People can put John's face, now, on this disease before they walk out of their house," she said. "Maybe, they would think differently as if he was a family member that their actions mean that much."

Prine was married to Fiona Whelan Prine. In a statement, she also urged people to take the virus seriously.

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