John Mellencamp Photography

John Mellencamp

Indiana native John Mellencamp first hit it big in the 1980s—under the stage name “Johnny Cougar”—singing earnest heartland roots rock in the vein of Bruce Springsteen and Tom Petty. He ruled the decade thanks to sing-a-long classics like “Hurts So Good,” “Jack & Diane,” “Pink Houses,” “Small Town,” and many other top-ten singles.

After dropping Cougar and finally recording under his own name, Mellencamp gained respect and critical acclaim as an innovative artist and master storyteller. By the early ’90s, his music became more adventurous and distinctive—and commercially successful. By the turn of the century, he matured into a well-respected elder statesman, expanding into roots rock, folk, acoustic, and blues circles.

Mellencamp’s concern for the plight of the American farmer led him to partner with Willie Nelson and Neil Young for the annual “Farm Aid” benefit concerts. He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2008, debuted his first ever musical (with author Stephen King and producer T Bone Burnett) in 2012, and continues to record and tour.

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