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(born October 7, 1951), previously known as Johnny Cougar, John Cougar, and John Cougar Mellencamp, is an American musician, singer-songwriter, painter, and actor. Mellencamp has been nominated for 13 Grammy Awards, winning one.
He is known for his catchy, populist brand of heartland rock, which emphasizes traditional instrumentation. His latest album of original songs, Sad Clowns & Hillbillies, was released on April 28, 2017 to widespread critical acclaim.
"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. 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.
His songs document the joys and struggles of ordinary people seeking to make their way, and he has consistently brought the fresh air of common experience to the typically glamour-addled world of popular music."John Mellencamp is arguably the most important roots rocker of his generation. John has made fiddles, hammer dulcimers, Autoharps (sic) and accordions [into] lead rock instruments on a par with electric guitar, bass, and drums, and he also brought what he calls 'a raw Appalachian' lyrical outlook to his songs.
Mellencamp's best music is rock 'n roll stripped of all escapism, and it looks directly at the messiness of life as it's actually lived.
His daughter, Michelle, later became a mother at age 18, making Mellencamp a grandfather at 37.
and later played in the local bands Trash, Snakepit Banana Barn and the Mason Brothers.De Fries 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, insisting that the bumpy German name "Mellencamp" was too hard to market.Mellencamp reluctantly agreed, but the album was a commercial failure, selling only 12,000 copies.but I thought the name was pretty silly." Mellencamp recorded The Kid Inside, the follow-up to Chestnut Street Incident, in 1977, but De Fries eventually decided against releasing the album and Mellencamp was dropped from MCA records (De Fries finally released The Kid Inside in early 1983, after Mellencamp achieved stardom).Mellencamp drew interest from Rod Stewart's manager, Billy Gaff, after parting ways with De Fries and was signed onto the small Riva Records label.
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In 1988, Rolling Stone magazine called this version of Mellencamp's band "one of the most powerful and versatile live bands ever assembled." 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". It wasn't let's go back and try to make this part fit into my song, but I wanted to capture the same feeling – the way those songs used to make you feel.