Arguably the most important roots rocker to emerge on the music scene since Bruce Springsteen, John Mellencamp has garnered an impressive 22 Top 40 hits over his career, including 7 number 1 hits on the Hot Mainstream Rock Tracks chart which is the most for any solo artist. His combination of plain spoken lyrics and catchy rhythms make his work instantly recognizable to audiences around the world.
A member of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Mellencamp is also one of the founders of Farm Aid, an organization that helps farmers with an annual event that has raised well over $50 million in its 30+ years.
John Mellencamp Bio
Born on October 7th, 1951, John Mellencamp spent the first two dozen years of his life becoming educated, graduating from Vincennes University in 1974, and using drugs and alcohol. It was only after graduation that he began playing music in earnest and managed to release his first album, “Chestnut Street Incident” under the stage name of Johnny Cougar because it was felt that Mellencamp was too hard to market.
His first success however was a single off his second album “A Biography” which became a huge hit is Australia, “I Need a Lover” which was released in 1978. A year later, the album “John Cougar” was released in the US and the single hit the Top 30. However, his breakthrough came in 1982 with the release of the album, “American Fool” which spawned three hit singles, “Hand to Hold On To”, “Hurts So Good” and the number one “Jack & Diane” which garnered considerable airplay on MTV.
Throughout the 80s, Mellencamp scored with a number of big hits from the 1985 release of the album “Scarecrow”, including “Pink Houses”, “Small Town”, “Lonely Ol’ Night”, and “R.O.C.K. in the USA”. Over that time, he was performing as John Cougar Mellencamp until he finally dropped Cougar from his name. His 1987 album, “The Lonesome Jubilee” also sported top 10 hits like “Cherry Bomb” and “Paper in Fire”.
By 1989, his album “Big Daddy” managed to cement his status as one of the leading solo artists in the US. His future releases such as “Whenever We Wanted”, “Human Wheels”, and “Dance Naked” demonstrated his prolific songwriting prowess. While the number of hit records has slowed down, his penchant for celebrated songwriting has remained just as vital as when he first started in the mid-1970s.
John Mellencamp Current Career
John’s 20th album of new material, “Plain Spoken” was released in 2014 and was followed initially by a very brief 10-city tour before the single, “Troubled Man” was published to iTunes. Afterwards, John started the first of his seven-leg 80 city tour in support of the album. In 2015, he delivered a powerful live performance of Bob Dylan’s classic “Highway 61 Revisited” at the MusiCares Person of the Year event.
John has also written a song for the Meg Ryan film, “Ithaca” and is working on a duets album with Carlene Carter which is set for release in late 2016 or early 2017. In any case, there is little doubt that John Mellencamp has established himself as one of the premiere American solo artists thanks to his extraordinary 35+ year career.
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