JOHN MELLENCAMP FACTS:
Genre: Rock, Folk
Hometown: Seymour, Indiana
Albums: Chestnut Street Incident (1976); A Biography (1978); John Cougar (1979); Nothin' Matters and What If It Did (1980); American Fool (1982); The Kid Inside (1983); Uh-Huh (1983); Scarecrow (1985); The Lonesome Jubilee (1987); Big Daddy (1989); Whenever We Wanted (1991); Human Wheels (1993); Dance Naked (1994); Mr. Happy Go Lucky (1996); John Mellencamp (1998); Rough Harvest (1999); Cuttin' Heads (2001); Trouble No More (2003); Freedom's Road (2007); Life, Death, Love and Freedom (2008); No Better Than This (2010)
Awards: 1 Grammys
Hits: "I Need a Lover," "Hurts So Good," "Jack & Diane," "Crumblin' Down," "Pink Houses," "Lonely Ol' Night," "Small Town," "Paper in Fire," "Cherry Bomb," "Get a Leg Up," "Wild Night," "Key West Intermezzo (I Saw You First)"
Other: One of the founding members of Farm Aid.
John Mellencamp may have dropped the Cougar from his name years ago, but the 59-year-old singer still has bite, and remains a popular act within the music industry. Almost 35 years after his debut, Mellencamp still performs regularly to adoring crowds.
Mellencamp got his start playing music at a young age, and formed his first band at 14. After he graduated from college, he decided to pursue music full-time, but the road to stardom certainly was not easy. For more than a year he struggled to find someone to help him record an album, but in 1976 he released his first record, Chestnut Street Incident, under the name Johnny Cougar. The album featured mostly cover songs including "Hit the Road Jack" and "Jailhouse Rock," but proved to be an important step on the way to a solid career.
After changing record labels, Mellencamp moved to London to record his next album. 1978's A Biography failed to gain traction overseas and was thus not released, and it appeared as though Mellencamp's dream of fame appeared be fading. However, his next album proved to be more popular and earned him considerable praise among music fans. The self-titled John Cougar was released in 1979 and is most well known for the hit single "I Need a Lover." The tune became his first top-40 hit, and was later covered by Pat Benatar on her debut album.
1982's American Fool featured the songs "Hurts So Good," which would reach number two, and "Jack and Diane," which earned the number one spot. Both of the songs remain popular even 28 years after the albums initial release. "Hurts So Good" would also go on to win Mellencamp the Grammy award for Best Male Rock Vocal.
Throughout the rest of the 1980s, Mellencamp continued to produce radio-ready songs. 1983's Uh Huh was the first album to be released under the name John Cougar Mellencamp, and included the top-10 hit "Pink Houses." Powered by his popularity, by the end of the decade Mellencamp began performing with established stars such as Bob Dylan and Bruce Springsteen.
Throughout the 1990s, Mellencamp continued his prolific career and became involved in the politics and participated in the Vote for Change tour in 2004. He has since continued to tour extensively, and his most recent album, No Better Than This, was released in August 2010 and received some of the best reviews of his storied career, signaling no end in sight for the Cougar.