Chris Stapleton Explains How Kenny Rogers, John Prine ‘Live On’ After Death

by Matthew Wilson

Chris Stapleton discusses the lasting legacy of late country music stars Kenny Rogers and John Prine. Both singers passed away earlier this year. He described them as irreplaceable but believes their memory lives on through their music.

“Kenny Rogers is obviously a huge influence,” Stapleton told Taste of Country. “John Prine is a unique voice and slant on songwriting that I don’t think is replaceable.”

Stapleton briefly commented on the controversy surrounding the 2020 CMA Awards. The ceremony honored musicians like Rogers. But they left out the contributions of Prine, Billy Joe Shaver, and Jerry Jeff Walker.

“We lost a lot of people this year, we lost a lot of wisdom in them, and there’s no amount of tributing on a television show that can fully give back to them and their families what they’ve given to us — just a wealth of music and joy,” Stapleton said. “That being said, how lucky are we that we have their music still?”

Chris Stapleton Reflects on the Legacy Musicians Leave Behind

Stapleton is thankful to still have their music, as well as the likes of Charlie Daniels’ and Tom Petty’s, to remember these late musicians with. The singer reflected on not having recordings of his own father and grandparents and how they feel lost to time comparatively.

“I was speaking to somebody about this, and they were like, ‘Are you sad about all the wisdom that was lost?’ Well, you know, my dad’s no longer around,” Stapleton continued. “I lost wisdom there. But there’s no recordings of my dad talking about things and singing songs. My grandparents aren’t around, you know — lost wisdom there. There’s not recordings of that wisdom anywhere.”

One of the great things about being a musician, Stapleton said is that a person isn’t really gone after death. Their memory lives on in the hearts of their fans.

“But we as musicians, a little bit…they get to live on,” he said. “I think that’s the thing: While we miss them in body, their spirits get to hang out a little bit more than other people who weren’t musicians. And what a wonderful thing, or notion, that is, that they get to live on in that way.”