The family of John Prine has donated his 1942 Wurlitzer jukebox to the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum’s collection.
Now on display in the museum’s galleries, the beautifully ornate jukebox was a gift to Prine from friend and fellow singer-songwriter Steve Goodman, who wanted to thank him for co-writing Goodman’s first country hit, “You Never Even Called Me by My Name” since Prine refused to take credit or accept any royalties for the song. Purchased by Goodman with part of his royalties from the hit, Prine made the Wurlitzer his own, filling it with classic and obscure country, pop and R&B singles, even several Christmas carols.
During a special conversation and performance in the museum’s Ford Theater, Prine family members Fiona Whelan Prine and Jody Whelan discussed his longtime support of the museum and shared the story of the jukebox. The program, which was presented in conjunction with “You Got Gold: Celebrating the Life & Songs of John Prine,” explored Prine’s musical beginnings in Chicago, from performing at open mics to his breakout success with his 1971 debut album.
Hosted by Museum Writer-Editor RJ Smith, the program featured commentary and performances by Greg Cahill, banjo player and founding member of Chicago-based bluegrass band Special Consensus; Mark Guarino, journalist and author of Country and Midwestern: Chicago in the History of Country Music and the Folk Revival; and singer-songwriter Bonnie Koloc, an influential member of the 1970s Chicago folk community. The program was filmed and will premiere at a later date as part of the museum’s Live at the Hall digital programs series, available to stream on the museum’s website.
Additionally, a special concert, “The Prine Family Presents: You Got Gold — Celebrating the Songs of John Prine,” was held in the museum’s CMA Theater this weekend. A portion of the proceeds from the show supported the nonprofit museum’s Words & Music program and honored the memory of Peter Cooper, who served as Senior Director, producer and writer for the museum.
Prine was named the museum’s artist-in-residence in 2020. He accepted the appointment, but died before he could participate in the residency.
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