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. 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.
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. A third single, "Hand To Hold On To," made #19 and was a staple in his concerts throughout the 1980s. Additionally, "Hurts So Good" spent 16 weeks in the Top Ten (more than any other single in the 1980s) and "Jack and Diane" is, to date, Mellencamp`s only single to top the Billboard pop chart.
December 13th 2007- 2008 inductees into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
On March 10, 2008, John Mellencamp will be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, along with Madonna, Leonard Cohen, The Ventures, and The Dave Clark Five
Full Name at Birth
John Cougar Mellencamp
Date of Birth
Claim to Fame
Jack And Diane