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Music rock singer and songwriter John Mellencamp picture(s)/pic(s), wallpaper and photo gallery, albums covers pictures.
Also known as: Johnny Cougar, John Cougar, John Cougar Mellencamp, The Coug.
Born: October 7, 1951 Seymour, Indiana, U.S.
John Mellencamp biography (bio):
John Mellencamp was born in Seymour, Indiana. He joined a soul band named "Crepe Soul" and served as one of two lead singers in the group. In Connecticut, his senior year of high school, Mellencamp married Priscilla Esterline (in Kentucky, where it was legal for 17-year-olds to get married), and they had a daughter named Michelle on December 4 of that year. In 1971 he formed a short-lived cover band called "Trash."
In 1974 he graduated from Vincennes University and took a job at a phone company in Seymour before deciding to go to New York in an attempt to land a record deal.
The John Cougar years:
At age 24, Mellencamp, determined to break into the music business, traveled to New York City and signed on with agent Tony DeFries of MainMan Management (at the time well-known for representing David Bowie). DeFries insisted that Mellencamp's first album, Chestnut Street Incident, a collection of covers and derivative originals, be released under the stage name Johnny Cougar, a move Mellencamp claims was made without his knowledge and against his will. The album was a failure, and Mellencamp lost his contract with MCA Records.
He signed to the tiny Riva Records label and recorded 1978's A Biography. This was unreleased in the United States, but yielded a hit in Australia, "I Need a Lover". Riva Records added this track to his next album, John Cougar (1979) and it became a #28 single in November 1979. Rocker Pat Benatar recorded "I Need a Lover" on her debut album In the Heat of the Night, and her version garnered some FM radio airplay, but it was not issued as a single in the United States.
In 1980, Mellencamp returned with Nothin' Matters And What If It Did, which yielded the Top 40 singles "This Time" (#27) and "Ain't Even Done With The Night" (#17). In 1982 Mellencamp released his breakthrough album, American Fool (see 1982 in music). The hit singles "Hurts So Good," which spent four weeks at #2, and "Jack and Diane," which was #1 for four weeks, sent the album to the top of the charts; and a third single, "Hand To Hold On To," made #19 and was a staple in his concerts throughout the 1980s. Additionally, "Hurts" spent more weeks in the Top Ten -- sixteen -- than any other single in the 1980s, and "Diane" is, to date, Mellencamp's only single ever to top the Billboard pop chart.
The John Cougar Mellencamp years:
Mellencamp changed his stage name to John Cougar Mellencamp for his 1983 follow-up, Uh-Huh, which was another top-10 hit and spawned three hit singles, including "Pink Houses," and "Crumblin' Down" (both of which made the top 10) and "Authority Song".
During the recording of Uh-Huh, Mellencamp's backing band settled on the lineup it would retain 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.
Mellencamp changed his billing for songwriting and production credits to simply John Mellencamp, although his official name on album covers and other releases was still John Cougar Mellencamp.
In 1985 Mellencamp released Scarecrow. The album's lyrics were socially aware, with several songs focusing on the plight of the American family farmer, and Mellencamp soon helped organize Farm Aid with Willie Nelson and Neil Young. "Lonely Ol' Night", "Small Town", and "R.O.C.K. in the U.S.A." all became Top 10 hits and "Rain On The Scarecrow" and "Rumble Seat" cracked the Top 40 and garnered considerable play on album-rock stations.
Prior to the Scarecrow Tour, during which he covered a bunch of 1960s rock and soul songs, Mellencamp added fiddle player Lisa Germano to his band to accent and deepen his overall sound. Germano would remain in Mellencamp's band until 1994.
Germano played a big role in Mellencamp's next LP, 1987's The Lonesome Jubilee, which was departure from his earlier material as it incorporated country and folk influences. It generated several more hit singles, "Paper in Fire," "Cherry Bomb" and "Check It Out," along with hit album tracks like "Hard Times For An Honest Man" and "The Real Life," and was considered one of the finest albums of the 1980s.
1989's Big Daddy was a quieter, mostly acoustic venture that was filled with introspective songs and was indeed the last album to contain the "Cougar" moniker. Big Daddy was a bit on the somber side but contained standout tunes like "Jackie Brown," "Big Daddy of Them All" and "Void in My Heart."
John Mellencamp years:
1991's Whenever We Wanted was the first album whose cover was billed to just John Mellencamp. It yielded the Top 40 hits "Get A Leg Up" and "Again Tonight," along with the mainstream rock hits "Love and Happiness" and "Now More Than Ever". In January of 1992, Mellencamp launched the Whenever We Wanted world tour. It marked the first time he was on the road since the Lonesome Jubilee Tour ended in July of 1988.
1993 saw the release of Human Wheels, one of his most critically acclaimed albums, although the stirring title track only peaked at #48 on the Billboard singles charts, a fact that Mellencamp directly attributes to his label's refusal to spend another $30,000 on promotion for the song. Fortunately, he returned to the upper reaches of the charts in 1994, when his quickly-recorded Dance Naked album yielded his biggest hit since "R.O.C.K in the USA" in 1986 with a jubilant cover of Van Morrison's "Wild Night" as a duet with Me'Shell NdegeOcello. Dance Naked also contained two catchy protest songs in "L.U.V." and "Another Sunny Day 12/25."Mellencamp left Mercury soon after.
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 album tracks such as "Eden Is Burning," "Miss Missy," "It All Comes True" and "Chance Meeting At The Trantula." The switch in labels coincided with the talented Dane Clark replacing the legendary Aronoff on drums.
In 1999 Mellencamp covered his own tunes as well as those by Bob Dylan and the Drifters for his album Rough Harvest, 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).
The early 21st century found Mellencamp teaming up with artists such as Chuck D and India.Arie to deliver Cuttin' Heads, spawning the radio hit "Peaceful World" -- a duet with India.Arie, and a live acoustic version of the tune was included on the benefit album God Bless America. Mellencamp embarked on the Cuttin' Heads Tour in the summer of 2001, before the album was even released. He opened each show on this tour with a cover of the Rolling Stones' "Gimme Shelter."
Trouble No More followed in mid-2003 and was a quickly-recorded collection of folks and blues covers by artists such as Robert Johnson, Son House, and Lucinda Williams. The album was also dedicated to Mellencamp's friend, Billboard magazine editor-in-chief Timothy White, who died from a heart attack in 2002. It was Mellencamp's performance of the Robert Johnson song "Stones In My Passway" at a benefit concert for White in October 2002 that led to Columbia Records talking him into recording an album of vintage American songs. Ironically enough, Mellencamp sang the classic gospel/folk song "Will The Circle Be Unbroken" at White's funeral on July 2, 2002.
Mellencamp participated in the Vote for Change tour in October of 2004 leading up to the 2004 U.S. Presidential election. That same month he released the two-disc career hits retrospective "Words and Music," which contained 35 of his radio singles (including all 22 of his Top 40 hits) along with two new tunes, the socially-conscious, R&B tinged single "Walk Tall" along with "Thank You" -- both produced by Babyface but written by Mellencamp. Throughout 2003 and early 2004, Mellencamp's music was frequently heard at campaign rallies for then-presidential candidate John Edwards. The two most frequently heard songs were "Your Life Is Now" and "Small Town," which was Edwards' official campaign song. Mellencamp was also a contributor to Edwards' campaign, contributing $2,000 to his effort in December 2003.
Mellencamp released Freedom's Road, on January 23, 2007. "Our Country," the first single from the album, hit radio in the fall of 2006. The song 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 "Our Country" as well as seven other songs on Freedom's Road. "Our Country" began being featured in Chevy Silverado TV commercials in late September of 2006, mostly during football games and big-time sporting events on major American televisions networks. Mellencamp hoped that including the song in the ads would bring it in front of a mass audience, since radio doesn't openly embrace new material from aging rock artists. However, many people dislike the song, merely because of the sheer volume of times it is played throughout a sports broadcast. Bill Simmons of ESPN.com has claimed that the Chevy commercial featuring "Our Country" is the only commercial that can cause Stockholm Syndrome.
Mellencamp shot the video for "Our Country," which is apparently a patriotic anthem along the lines of Woody Guthrie's "This Land Is Your Land," in Savannah, Ga. on September 17 and 18 of 2006. He also sang the song to open Game 2 of the 2006 World Series.
Mellencamp wrote and produced all 10 songs on Freedom's Road, and the record peaked at No. 5 on the Billboard 200 album chart by selling 56,000 copies in its first week on the market, marking his highest charting release since Scarecrow went to No. 2 in the fall of '85.
Notable tunes on Freedom's Road include "Jim Crow" -- a duet with legendary folk icon Joan Baez and another song about racism -- "Heaven Is A Lonely Place," the acoustically arranged "Rural Route," and the scorching opener "Someday," which was the album's second single.
Mellencamp most recently played at the "Boston Pops Fireworks Spectacular" on July 4th, 2007, performing "Our Country" and "R.O.C.K in the USA" with the Boston Pops Orchestra in a show that was telecast live on the CBS television network.
In the summer of 2007, Mellencamp has been completing a musical with legendary horror author Stephen King, entitled Ghost Brothers of Darkland County, which has been in the works since 2000. He will be heading out on tour this fall for the first time since the spring of 2006. The first leg of the jaunt kicks off Oct. 26 in Terre Haute, Ind. and finishes up on Nov. 15 in St. Louis, Mo. The second leg is expected to begin in early December.
On August 13, 2007, Mellencamp began recording his next album -- the 18th album of original material, and 22nd overall, in his legendary career. The record is being produced by T-Bone Burnett. The first song with video from this yet to be titled album, called "Jena", was introduced on his web site. Mellencamp decided to release the video because of the newsworthy subject matter of the song.Jena has already received a bit of anger from Jena's mayor saying that the song is not true about the racism, hatred, and the justice, and he called the video inflammory.
Mellencamp performed his 1985 uberhit "Small Town" on NBC on September 6, 2007, as part of the NFL Kickoff before the opening game of the 2007 NFL season between the Indianapolis Colts and New Orleans Saints. Three nights later in New York City at the annual Farm Aid benefit concert, Mellencamp unveiled two new songs, "Troubled Land" and "If I Die Sudden," that are expected to be included on the album he's working on with Burnett. Mellencamp wrote 18 songs in 15 days for the new record, which is still untitled and doesn't have a release date. He's expected to play these and perhaps more new tracks from his new album during his fall tour along with some other rarely-played songs from his catalog and his crowd-pleasing hits.
Mellencamp has had a brief career as an actor, appearing in four films: Falling from Grace (which he also directed) (1992), Madison (2001), After Image (2001), and Lone Star State of Mind (2002). John's older brother Joe Mellencamp appears in Falling from Grace as the bandleader during the country club scene.
Mellencamp lives in Bloomington, Indiana and has been married to former supermodel Elaine Irwin since September 5, 1992. Mellencamp has five children from his three marriages: Michelle from his first marriage; daughters Teddi Jo and Justice from his second wife; and sons Hud and Speck from his current marriage. Mellencamp is known to be a big fan of Indiana University Basketball and is regularly seen in attendance at home games. He and his family are also spotted regularly in the Bloomington community when he is at home.