John Mellencamp
Musician
John Mellencamp
John Mellencamp, is an American rock singer-songwriter, musician, painter and occasional actor known for his catchy, populist brand of heartland rock which emphasizes traditional instrumentation. He has sold over 40 million albums worldwide and has amassed 22 Top 40 hits in the United States.
Biography
John Mellencamp's personal information overview.
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News
News abour John Mellencamp from around the web
John Mellencamp and Christie Brinkley split after a year of dating
LATimes - 7 months
John Mellencamp and Christie Brinkley made it for almost a year as a couple, but now they’re done. “Both the mileage between their homes and their heavy career demands interfered with their ability to maintain the relationship,” a spokesperson for the two told People on Tuesday. A Page Six source...
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LATimes article
Americana Blues Meets Italian Jazz: Chris Rundle Band's Debut Album, Cave Sessions
Huffington Post - about 1 year
With an infectious rolling groove led by the double bass, British bluesman Chris Rundle eases into Ray Bonneville's "Under the Bridge" with a natural and deceptively effortless sound on his debut album, "Cave Sessions," taking the Americana blues classic on a journey from New Orleans to Rundle's adopted streets in Bologna, Italy. Soon joined by Italian jazz guitarist Enrico Pitaro's haunting licks, Rundle's Americana guitar underlies a brilliant new collection that is hip without pretension, evocative without formality, and brings together a unique blend of down-home and jazz-laced blues. The collaboration between Rundle--whose spare style springs from Americana and country blues to global folk roots--and his Italian jazz counterparts is not only refreshing and engaging, but adds an original edge to traditional and contemporary blues tunes that is at once relaxed and incredibly accomplished. In "Sugar and Riley," Rundle's vocals trundle alongside Giannicola Spezzigu's double ...
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Huffington Post article
Thoughts on Jerry Hall's Engagement, From a Woman One Year Younger
Huffington Post - about 1 year
I woke up this morning to see that Jerry Hall is engaged to Rupert Murdoch. I'd admired her for years as she's never been afraid to say exactly what she thought, just like Lena Dunham and Amy Schumer today. The Twittersphere went nuts about the engagement of a 59-year-old woman to an 84-year-old man, and every tweet I read was negative. Many tweeters accused Jerry of marrying Rupert for his money, as if there couldn't be any other explanation for the marriage between the two. One witty tweet by @TheAlPitcher read: "Please support my kickstarter campaign for Jerry Hall. We can get her the money. She doesnt need to do this." I am one year younger than Jerry Hall and so the subject hits close to home. As I drank my morning coffee and winced at the Twittersphere comments, I found myself wondering: why would such a lively woman marry a man only four years younger than my father? And my father's still in good health for 88--he plays tennis three times a week and when I drove him to hi ...
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Huffington Post article
Beyond Bono: Music and Philanthropy
Huffington Post - about 1 year
I wish I could sing, and belt out every feeling like Nina Simone or sing a love letter to my daughter like Paul Simon. I love music and have long been impressed with the artists that enrich our world in so many ways. A while back I started exploring the idea of writing a thoughtful compilation of the efforts in philanthropy made by the music industry. The deeper I dug, the more I uncovered a world of beautiful people destined to create, heal, and challenge humanity to be better. Musicians give us the soundtrack to our lives and define our times, and can also show us how to truly make an impact by giving back. John Legend performed at an event benefitting nonprofit organization Common Threads. Photo courtesy of Common Threads. This is a topic that I have visited and revisited over the last few years. Through my research it became clear that the music industry's cup of givers is flowing over, full of inspiring individuals making the world a better place. "Perhaps the artist be ...
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Huffington Post article
And to All a Warm Night
Huffington Post - about 1 year
'Twas the night before Christmas, And asleep in his car Were the vet's wife and sweet children As he touches his scar. It is far too easy to envision a homeless veteran sleeping in his car this Christmas Eve. He's shivering, trying to shake off the cold that can't be shaken off because it has burrowed into the very marrow of his bones. What's more heartbreaking to imagine are his 6-year-old son and 4-year-old daughter in the back seat, both trembling against their mother, as she desperately tries to use her body heat to warm them. But it's a losing battle; that same bone-chilling cold has them shivering as well. To them, Christmas will mean a hot ham dinner and a candy cane served at a soup kitchen. Now imagine that same father and mother, "she in her kerchief, and he in his cap," in their children's oh-so-perfectly warm rooms at night, tucking them in, then reading them The Night Before Christmas, as the children sink their heads into their soft pillows, in their v ...
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Huffington Post article
Beans, Biscuits and Kentucky's Bill Goodman
Huffington Post - over 1 year
"Who knows how long this will last Now we've come so far, so fast But somewhere back there in the dust That same small town in each of us" -- Don Henley and Bruce Hornsby As the Chairman of RRP International Publishing and Digital Media, it was an easy decision for our company to publish a book written by Bill Goodman. Bill is a Kentucky Hall of Fame journalist and one of the best known broadcast journalists in the state. He is the host of the popular public affairs program Kentucky Tonight and a number of other well-known programs on Kentucky Educational Television. Goodman has been the moderator for a plethora of political debates and received national acclaim for his professionalism and insightful questions during the KET debate between Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and his challenger, Kentucky Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes, in 2014. He has a reputation for being even-handed and fair in his approach to news. I knew Bill Goodman is well-respected ...
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Huffington Post article
Review: John Mellencamp, Still Defiant, at the Apollo Theater
NYTimes - almost 2 years
Mr. Mellencamp, singing as a raspy voice of conscience, took his “Plain Spoken” tour to the Apollo Theater on Thursday night.
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NYTimes article
Future Islands Returning to Perform on Letterman’s “Late Show”
Headline Planet - almost 2 years
While many are musically stellar, few late night talk show performances reach a point of being memorable. Future Islands’ spring 2014 appearance on CBS’ “Late Show with David Letterman” rocketed past that point. Not simply memorable, it resonated as an instant classic. Highlighted by lead singer Samuel T. Herring’s erratic dance moves and fierce vocal intensity, the band’s mesmerizing rendition of “Seasons (Waiting on You)” amounted to far more than a promo spot. It created an audio and visual experience that countless music fans would come to recognize. While some parody emerged alongside the reverence, there was no denying the impact of the performance. And when the song appeared at the top of many highly-regarded “best of 2014″ lists a half-year later, the performance video made an impact again. On April 28, Future Islands will receive the chance to create another classic “Letterman” moment. CBS confirms that the band will appear as that evening’s musical guest. Actor ...
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Headline Planet article
Mellencamp: Religious objections law 'stain' on Indiana
Yahoo News - almost 2 years
Rocker John Mellencamp says Indiana's religious objections law is a "stain" on his home state. Mellencamp posted a letter on his website (http://www.mellencamp.co m) Thursday panning the law ...
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Yahoo News article
Grammy Foundation event honors concerts for a cause
USA Today - about 2 years
Thursday's concert also featured Willie Nelson, John Mellencamp, Walk the Moon and others.          
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USA Today article
From John Lennon to John Mellencamp: Rock-Star Painters in Spotlight
Wall Street Journal - about 2 years
In exhibitions and at auction, rock stars like John Mellencamp, David Bowie, Bjork and John Lennon are finding a big audience for their art work.
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Wall Street Journal article
New alcohol charge against John Mellencamp's son
Yahoo News - over 2 years
BLOOMINGTON, Ind. (AP) — The 20-year-old son of rock star John Mellencamp faces an underage drinking charge while awaiting resolution of charges that he and his brother seriously injured a man in a fight.
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Yahoo News article
The Day Jay Leno Scared the Hell Out of Me (and More from 'The Tonight Show' Hallways)
Huffington Post - about 3 years
As I watched Jay Leno say goodbye on his final Tonight Show, I started thinking about all of my experiences with Jay, the stars on his show, the various wild animals roaming the halls and his incredible staff. You see, for a good part of my 12 years as host and correspondent on Access Hollywood, my dressing room was in the same hallway as The Tonight Show. In fact, there were actually two main hallways, one on each floor. I was on the second floor. The musical guest of the night had the dressing room at the top of the stairs, mine was down the hall. It never ceased to amaze me what famous singer or band I'd run into, sometimes literally, at the top of the stairs as I headed down to our studio to shoot our show. Once, I nearly took out Prince. The things I have seen, heard and smelled coming out of that room remain a cornucopia of the times for me. Snoop. The Cure. Keith Urban. Rihanna. Slash from Velvet Revolver. John Mellencamp. Too many to count. We shot Access Hollywood in John ...
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Huffington Post article
Pete Seeger, the Sower of Seeds
Huffington Post - about 3 years
Farm Aid was positively blessed to have hosted one of the last public performances by Pete Seeger at our annual concert event on September 21, 2013, in Saratoga Springs, New York. Planning the concert in his backyard, we knew we wanted to invite Pete to be part of the event, and we were lucky that his friends and neighbors reached out to us to make it happen. It was right for Pete to be there -- he was an inspiration to the artists on our board, to the many artists on the Farm Aid stage, and to the family farmers who fight for the same values which Pete stood tall for his whole life. When we were making arrangements for Pete's surprise performance at Farm Aid 2013, his daughter Tinya, over the course of several conversations, essentially told me the following: Pete is nearly deaf, his voice is almost gone, he can hardly play his banjo and his memory is spotty. But when Pete took the stage, he transcended all that. To quote Ronnie Gilbert, the soaring female voice of The Weavers, "Yo ...
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Huffington Post article
Pete Seeger (1919-2014): He Changed the World One Song at a Time
Huffington Post - about 3 years
Pete Seeger, the 94-year-old activist-singer-songwriter who tried to change the world with every note he uttered, has died, and we are all the poorer for it. A longtime friend whose letters I treasured for their hand-drawn embellishments and whose words of encouragement urged me to keep on fighting, Seeger belonged to a dying breed of Americans who cared more about making a difference using whatever resources were available to them than luxuriating in creature comforts and basking in the glow of their greatness. Long before the Beatles or the Rolling Stones, Jim Hendrix or Bob Dylan, there was Pete Seeger, a lone ranger fighting injustice with little more than a five-string banjo in hand and a gift for putting words to music. Unarguably one of the most important musical influences of the 20th century, Seeger helped to lay the foundation for American protest music, singing out about the plight of everyday working folks and urging listeners to political and social activism. Born i ...
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Huffington Post article
Timeline
Learn about memorable moments in the evolution of John Mellencamp
    FORTIES
  • 2016
    On April 27, 2016, the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP) presented Mellencamp with its prestigious Founders Award at the 33rd annual ASCAP Pop Music Awards in Los Angeles.
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    The show is currently being further developed in London, with a table reading expected sometime in 2016, though King and Mellencamp are no longer as actively involved: "Steve and I are taking a step back... but if they called and said they needed a song I would write one," Mellencamp told USA Today.
    More Details Hide Details Mellencamp has made several forays into acting over the years, appearing in four films: Falling from Grace (which he also directed) (1992), Madison (2001, narration only), After Image (2001), and Lone Star State of Mind (2002). His older brother, Joe Mellencamp, appears in Falling from Grace as the bandleader during the country club scene along with his band Pure Jam. In 1980, Mellencamp turned down the lead role in the movie The Idolmaker because, as he told the Toledo Blade in 1983, "I was afraid that if I made too much money, I'd have no motivation to make records anymore." Mellencamp told VH1 that he was originally offered the Brad Pitt role in Thelma and Louise: "You know they used to want me to be an actor all the time and I used to get more movie role offers. That's when I was – believe it or not, I used to not be as ugly as I am now. And they gave me this script called Thelma & Louise and they said, 'The guy wrote the part with you in mind, John, you really gotta do this part.' And I read the script and I thought, 'Yeah, I get it but I don't want to take my shirt off.' So Brad Pitt took his shirt off and look what happened to Brad Pitt. I was that close."
    Mellencamp and Carter debuted two songs from the album, "Indigo Sunset" and "My Soul's Got Wings," during Mellencamp's concert in Tulsa on April 1, 2016 (Carter served as the opening act for the show). "Indigo Sunset" was written by both Mellencamp and Carter, while Mellencamp wrote the music to "My Soul's Got Wings," giving life to a previously unheard lyric written by American folk singer Woody Guthrie.
    More Details Hide Details While it is considered a duets project, Carter told Pacific University that the album won't contain strictly duets. “Sad Clowns and Hillbillies is a wonderful conglomeration of John's songs and my songs. Some are duets and some are by themselves - it’s different, but really kind of the way John and I roll. We are very like-minded and on musical ground that really feels right. It’s been quite a wonderful ride.” Country music star Keith Urban has consistently cited Mellencamp's influence on his music, and when Mellencamp's Lonesome Jubilee Tour pulled into Australia in 1988, Urban was in attendance and described the experience as an ”epiphany.” “'I Need A Lover,' 'Hurts So Good' were massive hits in Australia,” Urban told the Vancouver Sun in 2016. “I played so many of those songs in my cover bands. But for me, The Lonesome Jubilee was the defining record and tour. I’ve since gotten to know John a little bit and it was one of the greatest opportunities I’ve ever had to meet a hero and tell him about a concert you went to when you were a nobody and how much of an effect that concert had on me.
    The tour resumed in the spring of 2016 with Mellencamp hitting secondary US markets from April 1 through April 23.
    More Details Hide Details The seventh and final leg of the tour will run from October 11 to November 4, 2016.
  • 2015
    In December 2015, Mellencamp began recording a duets album with Carlene Carter, who was his opening act for all shows on the Plain Spoken tour and would join Mellencamp for two songs during his set. "We really enjoyed singing together on tour," Carter told The Advocate. "Our voices clicked really good.
    More Details Hide Details John got the idea to do an album together. I was blown away. I think we're onto something really interesting, but I won't give the surprise away." Carter gave additional information to the Austin Chronicle, saying: "We’re actually making a duet record together starting in December, so I’m writing for that. It’s different, because I’ve never really sat down and tried to write duets. That’s going to be a fun challenge." Mellencamp and Carter's duets album, which is called Sad Clowns and Hillbillies, will be released in the spring of 2017. "We wrote a couple of songs together, and she wrote some and I wrote some," Mellencamp told USA Today of the material on Sad Clowns and Hillbillies.
    In September 2015, Mellencamp began a new relationship with former supermodel Christie Brinkley. In August 2016, the couple announced their separation after almost a year of dating.
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    Said Carter in 2015: "The way John Mellencamp and I met was he invited me to come and sing this song he had written for the movie that Meg Ryan has coming out called Ithaca.
    More Details Hide Details That was when we became friends, when I went to Indiana and recorded with him and the guys this really cool song called 'Sugar Hill Mountain' that's in the movie. And the movie is wonderful. We got to see a rough cut of it and I was very impressed." Mellencamp lives five miles outside of Bloomington, Indiana on the shores of Lake Monroe, but he also has a vacation home in Daufuskie Island, South Carolina.
    Outside of the Plain Spoken Tour, Mellencamp's most noteworthy live performance in 2015 came on February 6, when he paid tribute to Bob Dylan at the annual MusiCares Person of the Year event by performing piano-and-vocal rendition of "Highway 61 Revisited" (the piano was played by Troye Kinnett from Mellencamp's band).
    More Details Hide Details Wrote USA Today: "The musical high point in a night of many highlights was probably John Mellencamp's interpretation of "Highway 61 Revisited"; with a vocal tone and timbre that channeled Tom Waits', he made this usually scorching rocker into a blues dirge. Never has Mellencamp sounded so artful." After a star-studded lineup paid tribute to Dylan with cover versions of some of his greatest songs, Dylan closed the evening with a 30-minute speech that included a reference to Mellencamp's 2008 song "Longest Days." Dylan said: "And like my friend John Mellencamp would sing – because John sang some truth today – one day you get sick and you don't get better. That's from a song of his called 'Life is Short Even on Its Longest Days.' It's one of the better songs of the last few years, actually. I ain't lying."
    The most recent showing of Mellencamp's artwork, titled "John Mellencamp: The Isolation of Mister," opened on October 22, 2015 and ran until December 19 at the ACA Galleries in New York City.
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    An exhibit of Mellencamp's paintings, titled "American Dreams: Paintings by John Mellencamp," was on view at the Morris Museum of Art in Augusta, Georgia from January 11 to April 12, 2015.
    More Details Hide Details The exhibit included 50 oil and mixed-media paintings, including several never-before seen by the public.
    Urban's 2015 hit single "John Cougar, John Deere, John 3:16" further illustrated Mellencamp's influence on his music.
    More Details Hide Details Noted art writer Hilarie M. Sheets, a contributing editor to ARTnews who writes regularly for The New York Times, called Mellencamp "a natural storyteller" in a 2012 essay she wrote about his artwork. Known over the course of his successful four-decade music career for his acutely observed songs about the American landscape and its cast of characters, Mellencamp has been equally productive as a painter mining similar terrain. Mellencamp's interest in painting began in early life, but was superseded in the 1980s by his skyrocketing musical career. However, throughout his life, Mellencamp has continued to seriously explore painting. Mellencamp's late mother, Marilyn, loved to paint landscapes and flowers and her son fell in love with both art and music at an early age. "I started messing around with oil paints when I was about ten but, you know, without instruction," he remembers.
    Urban has covered numerous Mellencamp songs in his concerts over the years, including "Hurts So Good," Jack and Diane," "Authority Song," and "Rumbleseat." In 2015, Urban twice duetted with Mellencamp on "Pink Houses" during nationally televised events.
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    Mellencamp promoted Plain Spoken with an 80-show North American tour that began on January 21, 2015 in South Bend, Indiana and concluded on August 4 in Indianapolis.
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  • 2014
    After his divorce from Irwin, Mellencamp began dating actress Meg Ryan. It was reported Mellencamp and Ryan broke up in the summer of 2014 after dating for over three years. In October 2014, it was revealed that Mellencamp and Ryan were back together. In the summer of 2015, it was reported they broke up again.
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    During these concerts, which primarily took place at casinos and festivals across the United States and Canada, he gave the first taste of Plain Spoken by playing "Troubled Man," the album's first track and first single. "Troubled Man" went on sale at iTunes on August 19, 2014 and was sent to radio stations for airplay on September 8.
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    In the summer of 2014, Mellencamp conducted a brief 10-show tour.
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    In January 2014, Mellencamp began recording the project, which would ultimately be titled Plain Spoken and would become his 20th album of original material and 22nd studio album overall.
    More Details Hide Details The album was released on September 23, 2014. Although Mellencamp said that Burnett would serve as the producer of Plain Spoken, Burnett was only credited as the "executive producer" of the album.
  • 2013
    In October 2013, Mellencamp revealed that he was working on a new album, and he offered this update on the project to the Minneapolis Star-Tribune: "I've had a couple rehearsals with the band, and T Bone Burnett and I go in the studio in January.
    More Details Hide Details I'm not part of the music business. I want to write my songs, do some little shows." A short time later, Mellencamp told Rolling Stone: "I've got a notebook with 85 new songs that I've written for my next record. T Bone Burnett is going to come out to Indiana sometime in early January and we're gonna go into the studio for however long it takes to make a new album. I haven't done one in five years."
  • 2012
    The musical debuted in the spring of 2012 at Alliance Theatre in Atlanta, Georgia, where it ran from April 4 through May 13.
    More Details Hide Details A CD/DVD deluxe edition, featuring the dialog, soundtrack, handwritten lyrics and a mini-documentary about the making of the musical, was released on June 4, 2013. Production on the musical's recorded soundtrack began on June 15, 2009, when T Bone Burnett, who served as the project's musical producer, began laying down tracks in Los Angeles for the songs Mellencamp wrote for the project. The soundtrack includes Rosanne Cash, Sheryl Crow, Elvis Costello, Taj Mahal, Ryan Bingham, Will Dailey and Neko Case among others singing the songs Mellencamp wrote. In November 2010, Mellencamp told the Chicago Tribune: Ryan D'Agostino of Esquire stated in a review of a New York rehearsal of Ghost Brothers of Darkland County in the fall of 2007, "Musicals aren't usually a guy thing. This one, though, is not only tolerable, it's good. It may be the first-ever musical written by men for men. There's no orchestra, just two twangy acoustic guitars, an accordion, and a fiddle. The songs are both haunting and all-American."
    Mellencamp took part in two Woody Guthrie tribute concerts in 2012 as part of a year-long celebration surrounding the 100-year anniversary of the folk icon's birth.
    More Details Hide Details On July 8, 2014, Mellencamp unexpectly dropped a new live album called Trouble No More Live at Town Hall. The album captures his live performance at Town Hall in New York City on July 31, 2003, in which he performed every track from his 2003 Trouble No More covers album in addition to a rendition of "Highway 61 Revisited" by Bob Dylan and reworked versions of three of his own songs. Two songs performed at the 2003 Town Hall concert, the 1962 Skeeter Davis hit "The End of the World" and the traditional folk song "House of the Rising Sun," did not make the final track list despite the album's official press release stating that the CD and digital versions "feature the complete 15-song concert."
  • 2011
    He brought the No Better Than This tour to Europe in the summer of 2011, opening in Copenhagen on June 24.
    More Details Hide Details One reviewer called the opening gig of the European leg of the tour "maybe the best rock-performance ever in Denmark." The No Better Than This Tour returned to the U.S. for one final round of shows from Oct 25 – November 19, 2011. The tour finally concluded with a tour of Canada in the summer of 2012.
  • 2010
    In 2010, Mellencamp's music was used by the National Organization for Marriage at events opposing same-sex marriage.
    More Details Hide Details In response, Mellencamp instructed Merlis to pen a letter to NOM stating "that Mr. Mellencamp's views on same sex marriage and equal rights for people of all sexual orientations are at odds with NOM's stated agenda" and requesting that NOM "find music from a source more in harmony with your views than Mr. Mellencamp in the future." Mellencamp has won one Grammy Award (Best Male Rock Performer for "Hurts So Good" in 1982) and been nominated for 12 others. He has also been bestowed with the Nordoff-Robbins Silver Clef Special Music Industry Humanitarian Award (1991), the Billboard Century Award (2001), the Woody Guthrie Award (2003), and the ASCAP Foundation Champion Award (2007). On October 6, 2008, Mellencamp won the prestigious Classic Songwriter Award at the 2008 Q Awards in London, England. Mellencamp was nominated for induction into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2009, 2010, 2014 and 2016, but he has yet to gain election. On September 9, 2010, Mellencamp received the Americana Lifetime Achievement Award in Nashville. On July 30, 2012 in San Jose, CA, Mellencamp received the John Steinbeck Award, given to those individuals who exemplify the spirit of "Steinbeck's empathy, commitment to democratic values, and belief in the dignity of the common man."
    On December 30, 2010, Mellencamp announced that he and Irwin had separated after 18 years of marriage. Their divorce became official on August 12, 2011, with the couple negotiating "an amicable settlement of all issues involving property and maintenance rights, the custody and support of their children, and all other issues," according to the settlement agreement.
    More Details Hide Details Mellencamp has five children from his three marriages: Daughter Michelle from his marriage to Esterline; daughters Teddi Jo and Justice from his marriage to Granucci; and sons Hud and Speck from his marriage to Irwin.
    Mellencamp, who co-headlined 11 shows in the summer of 2010 with Bob Dylan, launched the No Better Than This theater tour on October 29, 2010 in his hometown of Bloomington, Indiana.
    More Details Hide Details On this tour, which ran through the summer of 2012 and covered the entire United States and Canada and much of Europe, Mellencamp opened each concert with a showing of a Kurt Markus documentary about the making of No Better Than This called "It's About You" before hitting the stage to play three different sets: a stripped-down acoustic set with his band, a solo acoustic set, and a fully electrified rock set. "It'll be like Alan Freed, like the old Moondog shows," Mellencamp told Billboard magazine prior to the tour. "When you went to see his shows, there was a movie like 'The Girl Can't Help It' or something, and then three or four bands played. I'm gonna come out and play with upright bass and cocktail drum kits and a lot of acoustic instruments. I'll play for, like, 40 minutes that way. Then the band will leave and it'll just be me with an acoustic guitar for 40 minutes, and then there'll be 40 minutes of rock 'n' roll. You'll get three different types of John Mellencamp, and you'll get a movie." Mellencamp played for over two hours and included 24 songs in his setlist on the tour.
    Mellencamp sang the hymn "Keep Your Eyes on the Prize" at "In Performance at the White House: A Celebration of Music from the Civil Rights Movement" on February 9, 2010.
    More Details Hide Details A career-spanning box set of album tracks and demos titled On the Rural Route 7609 was released on June 15, 2010, nine weeks before No Better Than This hit stores. "If you didn't get deeper into the original albums and know these songs, it will be like discovering new material," Mellencamp said about On the Rural Route 7609.
    He performed "Down by the River" on January 29, 2010 in Los Angeles in tribute to Neil Young, who was honored at the 20th annual MusiCares Person of the Year gala.
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  • THIRTIES
  • 2009
    On December 6, 2009, Mellencamp performed "Born in the U.S.A." as a tribute to Bruce Springsteen, who was one of the honorees at the 2009 Kennedy Center Honors. "I was very proud and humbled to have been able to play 'Born in the U.S.A.' in a different fashion that I think was true to the feelings that Bruce had when he wrote it," Mellencamp said.
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    In the summer of 2009, Mellencamp embarked on a tour of minor league ballparks with Bob Dylan and Willie Nelson that ran from July 2 – August 15.
    More Details Hide Details While he was on tour, Mellencamp recorded a new album titled No Better Than This that was again produced by T Bone Burnett. The tracks for the album were recorded at historic locations, such as the First African Baptist Church in Savannah, Georgia as well as at the Sun Studio in Memphis and the Sheraton Gunter Hotel in San Antonio where blues pioneer Robert Johnson recorded "Sweet Home Chicago" and "Crossroad Blues." Mellencamp recorded the album using a 1955 Ampex portable recording machine and only one microphone, requiring all the musicians to gather together around the mic. The album was recorded in mono. Mellencamp wrote over 30 songs for the record (only 13 made the final cut), and he wrote one song specifically for Room 414 at the Gunter Hotel. "It's called 'Right Behind Me'. I wrote it just for this room," Mellencamp told the San Antonio Express-News. "I could have done this in my studio. But I want to do it this way, and if I can't do what I want at this point, I'm not going to do it. If it's not fun, I'm not going to do it. I'm through digging a ditch." No Better Than This was released on August 17, 2010 and peaked at No. 10 on the Billboard 200, becoming the 10th Top 10 album of his career. No Better Than This is the first mono-only release to make the top 10 since James Brown's Pure Dynamite!
    Mellencamp participated in a tribute concert for Pete Seeger's 90th birthday on May 3, 2009 at Madison Square Garden in New York City which raised funds for an environmental organization founded by Seeger to preserve and protect the Hudson River.
    More Details Hide Details Mellencamp performed solo acoustic renditions of Seeger and Lee Hays' "If I Had a Hammer" and his own "A Ride Back Home."
  • 2008
    The program aired on December 11, 2008 and also featured an in-depth documentary tracing Mellencamp's roots.
    More Details Hide Details For the first time since the Whenever We Wanted Tour in 1992, Mellencamp toured Australia and New Zealand with opening act Sheryl Crow from November 15 – December 7, 2008. Crow joined Mellencamp on stage to duet on "My Sweet Love" during the last seven shows.
    On September 23, 2008, Mellencamp filmed a concert at the Crump Theatre in Columbus, Indiana for a new A&E Biography series called "Homeward Bound".
    More Details Hide Details The show features performers returning to small venues where they performed during the early stages of their careers. Mellencamp had last played at the Crump Theatre on October 4, 1976.
    On September 3, 2008, Mellencamp made available on his website a home-video recording of his solo acoustic cover of Bob Dylan's "The Times They Are A-Changin'" as a sign that the 2008 Presidential Election is going to bring about change in America.
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    Mellencamp made a guest appearance at Billy Joel's concert of July 16, 2008 at Shea Stadium in New York, singing "Pink Houses."
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    The induction ceremony took place in New York City on March 10, 2008, and Mellencamp was inducted by his good friend Billy Joel, who asked Mellencamp to induct him into the Rock Hall back in 1999 (Mellencamp had to opt out because of another commitment, so Ray Charles inducted Joel).
    More Details Hide Details During his induction speech for Mellencamp, Joel said: Studio albums
    She harmonizes with Mellencamp on "My Sweet Love" and provides background vocals to three other songs on Life, Death, Love and Freedom, which became the ninth Top 10 album of Mellencamp's career when it debuted at No. 7 on the Billboard 200 the week of August 2, 2008.
    More Details Hide Details Like Freedom's Road, Life, Death, Love and Freedom also sold 56,000 copies in its first week on the market. In its list of the 50 best albums of 2008, Rolling Stone magazine named Life, Death, Love and Freedom No. 5 overall and also dubbed "Troubled Land" No. 48 among the 100 best singles of the year.
    In an interview with the Bloomington Herald-Times in March 2008, Mellencamp dubbed Life, Death, Love and Freedom "The best record I've ever made."
    More Details Hide Details He signed with Starbucks' Hear Music label to distribute the album and said, "they think it's a fucking masterpiece." The album's first single was "My Sweet Love." A video for the song was filmed in Savannah, GA on June 9, 2008. Karen Fairchild of Little Big Town is featured in the video.
    According to a February 8, 2008, Associated Press report, Mellencamp's camp asked that the campaign for presidential candidate Sen.
    More Details Hide Details John McCain stop using his songs, including "Our Country" and "Pink Houses," during their campaign events. McCain's campaign responded by pulling the songs from their playlist. Mellencamp's publicist, Bob Merlis, noted to the Associated Press that "if is such a true conservative, why he playing songs that have a very populist pro-labor message written by a guy who would find no argument if you characterized him as an ardent leftist?" Merlis also noted that the same songs had been used, with Mellencamp's approval, by John Edwards's campaign; in response, the McCain campaign ceased using the songs. Mellencamp performed "Small Town" at a Barack Obama rally in Evansville, Indiana on April 22, the night of the 2008 Pennsylvania primary. Mellencamp also performed "Our Country" at a rally for Hillary Clinton in Indianapolis, Indiana, on May 3, 2008, although he never came out in support of either Obama or Clinton during the primaries. "Neither candidate is as liberal as he would prefer, but he's happy to contribute what he can," Merlis said.
  • 2007
    The first song with video, "Jena," was introduced on Mellencamp's website in October 2007.
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    On August 13, 2007, Mellencamp began recording his 18th album of original material, titled Life, Death, Love and Freedom.
    More Details Hide Details The album, which was released on July 15, 2008, was produced by acclaimed roots producer T Bone Burnett.
  • 2006
    Mellencamp sang "Our Country" to open Game 2 of the 2006 World Series, and the song was nominated for a 2008 Grammy Award in the Best Solo Rock Vocal Performance category, but lost to Bruce Springsteen's "Radio Nowhere."
    More Details Hide Details Freedom's Road peaked at No. 5 on the Billboard 200 album chart by selling 56,000 copies in its first week on the market.
    Although Mellencamp had always been outspoken and adamant about not selling any of his songs to corporations to use in commercials, he changed his stance and let Chevrolet use "Our Country" in Chevy Silverado TV commercials that began airing in late September 2006.
    More Details Hide Details "I agonized," Mellencamp told USA Todays Edna Gundersen in 2007 over his decision to license "Our Country" to Chevrolet. "I still don't think we should have to do it, but record companies can't spend money to promote records anymore, unless you're U2 or Madonna. I'm taking heat because no one's ever done this before. People have licensed songs that have already been hits, but nobody's licensed a brand-new song to a major company, and people don't know how to react."
    I think we came up with a pretty timeless sounding album," Mellencamp told his online radio station in late 2006. "Our Country," the first single from Freedom's Road, was played as the opening song on Mellencamp's 2006 spring tour, and the band that opened for him on that tour, Little Big Town, was called on to record harmonies on the studio version of "Our Country," as well as seven other songs on Freedom's Road.
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  • 2005
    On the second leg of the tour in the summer of 2005, Fogerty co-headlined with Mellencamp at outdoor amphitheaters across the United States.
    More Details Hide Details Fogerty would join Mellencamp for duets on Fogerty's Creedence Clearwater Revival hit "Green River" and Mellencamp's "Rain on the Scarecrow." Mellencamp released Freedom's Road, his first album of original material in over five years, on January 23, 2007. He intended for Freedom's Road to have a 1960s rock sound while still remaining contemporary, and he feels that goal was achieved. "We wanted to make sure that it had the same feeling of some of the great songs from the '60s but also had the message of today and had the backbeat of today.
    The first leg of what was called the Words and Music Tour in the spring of 2005 featured Donovan playing in the middle of Mellencamp's set.
    More Details Hide Details Mellencamp would play a handful of songs before introducing Donovan and then duetting with him on the 1966 hit "Sunshine Superman". Mellencamp would leave the stage as Donovan played seven or eight of his songs (backed by Mellencamp's band) and then return to finish off his own set after Donovan departed.
    In 2005, Mellencamp toured with Donovan and John Fogerty.
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  • 2004
    Mellencamp participated in the Vote for Change tour in October 2004 leading up to the 2004 U.S. Presidential election.
    More Details Hide Details That same month he released the two-disc career hits retrospective Words & Music: John Mellencamp's Greatest Hits, which contained 35 of his radio singles (including all 22 of his Top 40 hits) along with two new tunes, "Walk Tall" and "Thank You" – both produced by Babyface but written by Mellencamp.
  • 2002
    Mellencamp sang the gospel song "Will The Circle Be Unbroken" at White's funeral on July 2, 2002.
    More Details Hide Details Trouble No More spent several weeks at #1 on Billboard's Blues Album charts.
    In October 2002, Mellencamp performed the Robert Johnson song "Stones in My Passway" at two benefit concerts for White.
    More Details Hide Details Columbia Records executives, who were in attendance at the benefit shows, were so impressed with Mellencamp's live renditions of "Stones in My Passway" that they convinced him to record an album of vintage American songs, which ultimately became Trouble No More.
    The album was also dedicated to Mellencamp's friend, Billboard magazine editor-in-chief Timothy White, who died from a heart attack in 2002.
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  • 2001
    Mellencamp and Green had a falling out in the early 2000s, and Green ultimately moved from Bloomington, Indiana to Taos, New Mexico in 2001. "Like when you're married, when you're friends with somebody for a long time, the more things build up the more things can go wrong," Mellencamp said in the liner notes to his 2010 box set, On the Rural Route 7609. "There were personal problems, cross-pollinated with professional issues.
    More Details Hide Details George has written some great lyrics and we've written some great songs together, but I just couldn't do it any more." On August 28, 2011, Green died in Albuquerque, New Mexico at the age of 59 after losing a battle with a rapid-forming small cell lung cancer. "I've known George since we were in the same Sunday school class. We had a lot of fun together when we were kids. Later on, we wrote some really good songs together," Mellencamp told the Bloomington Herald Times shortly after Green's death. "George was a dreamer, and I was sorry to hear of his passing." Mellencamp was critical of Ronald Reagan through his music in the 1980s and wrote some scathing lyrics about Reagan in his 1989 song "Country Gentleman:" "He ain't a-gonna help no children/He aint a-gonna help no women/He just gonna help his rich friends."
    Mellencamp embarked on the Cuttin' Heads Tour in the summer of 2001, before the album was even released.
    More Details Hide Details He opened each show on this tour with a cover of the Rolling Stones' "Gimme Shelter" and also played a solo acoustic version of the Cuttin' Heads track "Women Seem" at each show. In 2003, he released Trouble No More, a quickly-recorded collection of folk and blues covers originally done by artists such as Robert Johnson, Son House, Lucinda Williams and Hoagie Carmichael.
  • 2000
    In August 2000, Mellencamp played a series of unannounced free concerts in major cities on the East Coast and in the Midwest as a way of giving back to fans who had supported him the previous 24 years.
    More Details Hide Details With a lo-fi setup that included portable amps and a battery-powered P.A. system, Mellencamp, armed with an acoustic guitar and accompanied only by an accordionist and a violist, dubbed the jaunt "Live in the Streets: The Good Samaritan Tour." At these dozen shows, which ranged in length from 45 to 60 minutes, Mellencamp covered a number of rock and folk classics and sprinkled in a few of his own songs. "Nobody's selling anything, there's no souvenirs—except what's in everybody's heart," Mellencamp told Billboard magazine. "Think about it: Isn't that where music started? To anybody who's said thank you to me, I say, 'You're very nice, but, really, thank you.'" The early 21st century also found Mellencamp teaming up with artists such as Chuck D and India.Arie to deliver his second Columbia album, Cuttin' Heads and the single "Peaceful World". Cuttin' Heads also included a duet with Trisha Yearwood on a love song called "Deep Blue Heart." "He played me this song," Yearwood told Country.com, "and he said, 'I kind of have an idea of like when Emmylou Harris sang on Bob Dylan's record, just kind of harmony all the way through.'"
    In May 2000, he gave the Indiana University commencement address, in which he advised graduates to "play it like you feel it!" and that "you'll be all right."
    More Details Hide Details Following the delivery of his address, Indiana University bestowed upon him an honorary Doctorate of Musical Arts.
  • TWENTIES
  • 1999
    In 1999, Mellencamp covered his own songs as well as those by Bob Dylan and the Drifters for his album Rough Harvest (recorded in 1997), one of two albums he owed Mercury Records to fulfill his contract (the other was The Best That I Could Do, a best-of collection).
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  • 1998
    He released a book of his early paintings, titled Paintings and Reflections, in 1998.
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    Issued a day before his 47th birthday in 1998, his self-titled debut for Columbia Records included the singles "Your Life is Now" and "I'm Not Running Anymore," along with standout album tracks such as "Eden Is Burning," "Miss Missy," "It All Comes True" and "Chance Meeting at the Tarantula."
    More Details Hide Details The switch in labels coincided with Dane Clark replacing Aronoff on drums. "On this record, we ended up quite a bit away from where we started," Mellencamp told Guitar World Acoustic in 1998. "Initially, I wanted to make a record that barely had drums on it. Donovan made a record (in 1966), Sunshine Superman, and I wanted to start with that same kind of vibe—Eastern, very grand stories, fairy tales."
  • 1997
    After the release of Mr. Happy Go Lucky and a subsequent four-month tour from March–July 1997 to promote it, Mellencamp signed a four-album deal with Columbia Records, although he wound up making only three albums for the label.
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  • 1995
    He returned to the concert stage in early 1995 by playing a series of dates in small Midwestern clubs under the pseudonym Pearl Doggy.
    More Details Hide Details In September 1996, the experimental album Mr. Happy Go Lucky, which was produced by Junior Vasquez, was released to critical acclaim. "It's been fascinating to me how urban records use rhythm and electronics, and it's terribly challenging to make that work in the context of a rock band," Mellencamp told Billboard magazine in 1996. "But we took it further than an urban record. The arrangements are more ambitious, with programs and loops going right along with real drums and guitars." Mr. Happy Go Lucky spawned the No. 14 single "Key West Intermezzo (I Saw You First)" (Mellencamp's last Top 40 hit) and "Just Another Day," which peaked at No. 46.
  • 1994
    With guitarist Andy York now on board as Larry Crane's full-time replacement, Mellencamp launched his Dance Naked Tour in the summer of 1994, but a minor heart attack suffered after a show at Jones Beach in New York on August 8 of that year eventually forced him to cancel the last few weeks of the tour. "I was up to 80 cigarettes a day," Mellencamp told the Boston Herald in September 1996 about the habits that led to his heart malfunction two years prior. "We'd finish a show and I'd go out and have steak and french fries and eggs at 4 in the morning and then go to sleep with all that in my gut.
    More Details Hide Details It was just a terrible lifestyle."
    Mellencamp's 1994 Dance Naked album included a cover of Van Morrison's "Wild Night" as a duet with Meshell Ndegeocello. "Wild Night" became Mellencamp's biggest hit in years, peaking at No. 3 on the Billboard Hot 100.
    More Details Hide Details The album also contained two protest songs in "L.U.V." and "Another Sunny Day 12/25," in addition to the title track, which hit No. 41 on the Hot 100 in the summer of 1994. "This is as naked a rock record as you're going to hear," Mellencamp said of Dance Naked in a 1994 Billboard magazine interview. "All the vocals are first or second takes, and half the songs don't even have bass parts. Others have just one guitar, bass, and drums, which I haven't done since American Fool."
  • 1993
    In 1993, he released Human Wheels, and the title track peaked at No. 48 on the Billboard singles chart. "To me, this record is very urban," Mellencamp told Billboard magazine of Human Wheels in the summer of 1993. "We had a lot of discussions about the rhythm and blues music of the day.
    More Details Hide Details We explored what a lot of these (current) bands are doing – these young black bands that are doing more than just sampling."
  • 1992
    He married former model Elaine Irwin on September 5, 1992.
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  • 1991
    Mellencamp's 1991 album, Whenever We Wanted, was the first with a cover billed to John Mellencamp—the Cougar was now gone forever.
    More Details Hide Details Whenever We Wanted yielded the Top 40 hits "Get a Leg Up" and "Again Tonight," but "Last Chance," "Love and Happiness" and "Now More Than Ever" all garnered significant airplay on rock radio. "It's very rock 'n' roll," Mellencamp said of Whenever We Wanted. "I just wanted to get back to the basics."
  • 1990
    In his second painting exhibition, at the Churchman-Fehsenfeld Gallery in Indianapolis in 1990, Mellencamp's portraits were described as always having sad facial expressions and conveying "the same disillusionment found in his musical anthems about the nation's heartland and farm crisis."
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  • TEENAGE
  • 1989
    In 1989, Mellencamp released the personal album Big Daddy, with the key tracks "Jackie Brown," "Big Daddy of Them All," and "Void in My Heart" accompanying the Top 15 single "Pop Singer."
    More Details Hide Details The album, which Mellencamp called at the time the most "earthy" record he'd ever made, is also the last to feature the "Cougar" moniker. In 1991, Mellencamp said: "'Big Daddy' was the best record I ever made. Out of my agony came a couple of really beautiful songs. You can't be 22 years old and had two dates and understand that album." Mellencamp was heavily involved in painting at this time in his life and decided not to tour behind Big Daddy, stating: "What's the point? This other step that people keep wanting me to take to become another level of recording artist – to be Madonna? To sell out? To bend over? To kiss somebody's ass? I ain't gonna do it."
  • 1987
    During the 1987–88 Lonesome Jubilee Tour, Mellencamp was joined onstage by surprise guest Bruce Springsteen at the end of his May 26, 1988 gig in Irvine, California, for a duet of Bob Dylan's "Like a Rolling Stone," which Mellencamp performed as the penultimate song during each show on that tour.
    More Details Hide Details After the Lonesome Jubilee Tour, Mellencamp divorced his second wife, Vicki.
    Mellencamp's next LP, 1987's The Lonesome Jubilee, included the singles "Paper in Fire," (No. 9) "Cherry Bomb," (No. 8), "Check It Out," (No. 14) and "Rooty Toot Toot" (No. 61) along with the popular album tracks "Hard Times for an Honest Man" and "The Real Life," both of which cracked the top 10 on the Billboard Album Rock Tracks chart. "We were on the road for a long time after Scarecrow, so we were together a lot as a band," Mellencamp said in a 1987 Creem Magazine feature. "For the first time ever, we talked about the record before we started.
    More Details Hide Details We had a very distinct vision of what should be happening here. At one point, The Lonesome Jubilee was supposed to be a double album, but at least 10 of the songs I'd written just didn't stick together with the idea and the sound we had in mind. So I just put those songs on a shelf, and cut it back down to a single record. Now, in the past, it was always 'Let's make it up as we go along' – and we did make some of The Lonesome Jubilee up as we went along. But we had a very clear idea of what we wanted it to sound like, even before it was written, right through to the day it was mastered." As Frank DiGiacomo of Vanity Fair wrote in 2007, "The Lonesome Jubilee was the album in which Mellencamp defined his now signature sound: a rousing, crystalline mix of acoustic and electric guitars, Appalachian fiddle, and gospel-style backing vocals, anchored by a crisp, bare-knuckle drumbeat and completed by his own velveteen rasp."
  • 1985
    Prior to the 1985–86 Scarecrow Tour, during which he covered some of the same 1960s rock and soul songs he and his band rehearsed prior to the recording of Scarecrow, Mellencamp added fiddle player Lisa Germano to his band.
    More Details Hide Details Germano would remain in Mellencamp's band until 1994, when she left to pursue a solo career.
    Shortly after finishing Scarecrow, Mellencamp helped organize the first Farm Aid benefit concert with Willie Nelson and Neil Young in Champaign, Illinois on September 22, 1985.
    More Details Hide Details The Farm Aid concerts remain an annual event and have raised over $50 million for struggling family farmers as of 2016.
  • 1984
    Scarecrow was the first album Mellencamp recorded at his own recording studio, jokingly dubbed "Belmont Mall," located in Belmont, Indiana and built in 1984.
    More Details Hide Details Mellencamp sees Scarecrow as the start of the alternative country genre: "I think I invented that whole 'No Depression' thing with the Scarecrow album, though I don’t get the credit," he told Classic Rock magazine in October 2008.
    Since college, Mellencamp has, with the exception of his continuing addiction to nicotine, lived a drug and alcohol-free lifestyle. In 1984, when asked about his views on drugs, he told Bill Holdship of Creem magazine, "If you want to stick needles in your arms, go ahead and fucking do it.
    More Details Hide Details You're the one that's going to pay the consequences. I don't think it's a good idea, and I sure don't advocate it, but I'm not going to judge people. Hell, if that was the case, you wouldn't like anyone in the music business because everyone's blowing cocaine." In 1985, Mellencamp released Scarecrow, which peaked at No. 2 in the fall of '85 and spawned five Top 40 singles: "Lonely Ol' Night" (No. 6), "Small Town" (No. 6), and "R.O.C.K. in the U.S.A. (A Salute to '60s Rock)" (No. 2), "Rain on the Scarecrow" (No. 21) and "Rumbleseat" (No. 28). According to the February 1986 edition of Creem Magazine, Mellencamp wanted to incorporate the sound of classic '60s rock into Scarecrow, and he gave his band close to a hundred old singles to learn "almost mathematically verbatim" prior to recording the album.
    On the 1984 Uh-Huh Tour, Mellencamp opened his shows with cover versions of songs he admired growing up, including Elvis Presley's "Heartbreak Hotel," the Animals' "Don't Let Me Be Misunderstood," Lee Dorsey's "Ya Ya" and the Left Banke's "Pretty Ballerina."
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  • 1983
    With some commercial success under his belt, Mellencamp had enough clout to force the record company to add his real surname, Mellencamp, to his stage moniker. The first album recorded under his new name John Cougar Mellencamp was 1983's Uh-Huh, a Top-10 album that spawned the Top 10 singles "Pink Houses" and "Crumblin' Down" as well as the No. 14 hit "Authority Song," which he said is "our version of "I Fought the Law'."
    More Details Hide Details During the recording of Uh-Huh, Mellencamp's backing band settled on the lineup it retained for the next several albums: Kenny Aronoff on drums and percussion, Larry Crane and Mike Wanchic on guitars, Toby Myers on bass and John Cascella on keyboards. In 1988, Rolling Stone magazine called this version of Mellencamp's band "one of the most powerful and versatile live bands ever assembled."
  • 1982
    In 1982, Mellencamp released his breakthrough album, American Fool, which contained the singles "Hurts So Good," an uptempo rock tune that spent four weeks at No. 2 and 16 weeks in the top 10, and "Jack & Diane," which was a No. 1 hit for four weeks. A third single, "Hand to Hold on To," made it to No. 19. "Hurts So Good" went on to win the Grammy Award for Best Male Rock Vocal Performance at the 25th Grammys. "To be real honest, there's three good songs on that record, and the rest is just sort of filler," Mellencamp told Creem Magazine of American Fool in 1984. "It was too labored over, too thought about, and it wasn't organic enough.
    More Details Hide Details The record company thought it would bomb, but I think the reason it took off was – not that the songs were better than my others – but people liked the sound of it, the 'bam-bam-bam' drums. It was a different sound."
  • CHILDHOOD
  • 1980
    In 1980, Mellencamp returned with the Steve Cropper-produced Nothin' Matters and What If It Did, which yielded two Top 40 singles – "This Time" (No. 27) and "Ain't Even Done With the Night" (No. 17). "The singles were stupid little pop songs," he told Record Magazine in 1983. "I take no credit for that record.
    More Details Hide Details It wasn't like the title was made up – it wasn't supposed to be punky or cocky like some people thought. Toward the end, I didn't even go to the studio. Me and the guys in the band thought we were finished, anyway. It was the most expensive record I ever made. It cost $280,000, do you believe that? The worst thing was that I could have gone on making records like that for hundreds of years. Hell, as long as you sell a few records and the record company isn't putting a lot of money into promotion, you're making money for 'em and that's all they care about. PolyGram loved Nothin' Matters. They thought I was going to turn into the next Neil Diamond."
  • 1979
    Riva Records added "I Need a Lover" to Mellencamp's next album released in the United States, 1979's John Cougar, where the song became a No. 28 single in late 1979.
    More Details Hide Details Pat Benatar recorded "I Need a Lover" on her debut album In the Heat of the Night.
  • 1978
    At Gaff's request, Mellencamp moved to London, England, for nearly a year to record, promote and tour behind 1978's A Biography.
    More Details Hide Details The record wasn't released in the United States, but it yielded a No. 1 hit in Australia with "I Need a Lover."
  • 1977
    Mellencamp recorded The Kid Inside, the follow-up to Chestnut Street Incident, in 1977, but Defries eventually decided against releasing the album and Mellencamp was dropped from MCA records (Defries finally released The Kid Inside in early 1983, after Mellencamp broke through to stardom).
    More Details Hide Details Mellencamp drew interest from Rod Stewart's manager, Billy Gaff, after parting ways with Defries and was signed onto the tiny Riva Records label.
  • 1974
    After about 18 months of traveling back and forth from Indiana to New York City in 1974 and 1975, Mellencamp finally found someone receptive to his music and image in Tony Defries of MainMan Management.
    More Details Hide Details Defries insisted that Mellencamp's first album, Chestnut Street Incident, a collection of covers and a handful of original songs, be released under the stage name Johnny Cougar, suggesting that the bumpy German name "Mellencamp" was too hard to market. Mellencamp reluctantly agreed, but the album was a complete failure, selling only 12,000 copies. Mellencamp confessed in a 2005 interview: "That (name) was put on me by some manager. I went to New York and everybody said, 'You sound like a hillbilly.' And I said, 'Well, I am.' So that's where he came up with that name. I was totally unaware of it until it showed up on the album jacket. When I objected to it, he said, 'Well, either you're going to go for it, or we’re not going to put the record out.' So that was what I had to do... but I thought the name was pretty silly."
    Upon graduating from Vincennes University in 1974, Mellencamp played in several local bands including the aforementioned glitter-band Trash, which was named after a New York Dolls song, and he later got a job in Seymour installing telephones.
    More Details Hide Details At this time, Mellencamp, who had given up drugs and alcohol for good before graduating from Vincennes University, decided to pursue a career in music and traveled to New York City in an attempt to land a record contract.
  • 1972
    Mellencamp attended Vincennes University, a two-year college in Vincennes, Indiana, starting in 1972.
    More Details Hide Details During this time he used drugs and alcohol, stating in a 1986 Rolling Stone interview, "When I was high on pot, it affected me so drastically that when I was in college there were times when I wouldn't get off the couch. I would lie there, listening to Roxy Music, right next to the record player so I wouldn't have to get up to flip the record over. I'd listen to this record, that record. There would be four or five days like that when I would be completely gone."
  • 1970
    Mellencamp was married to Priscilla Esterline from 1970 until 1981 and to Victoria Granucci from 1981 until 1989.
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    Mellencamp became a father in December 1970, only six months after he graduated from high school.
    More Details Hide Details His daughter, Michelle, later became a mother at age 19, making Mellencamp a grandfather at age 37.
  • OTHER
  • 1951
    Born on October 7, 1951.
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