Personalities | John (Cougar) Mellencamp | Eighties | Rock
(Vocals, b. 1951)
Indiana-born Mellencamp endured several years of hard apprenticeship and some unsuccessful recordings for MCA before he was rechristened John Cougar by Bowie’s manager Tony DeFries. His 1979 debut album charted in the US, and a handful of minor hits followed. In 1982, American Fool made him a big star in the States, and delivered a No. 1 in ‘Jack And Diane’. His style of mildly gritty Stones-influenced pop rock was also showcased on Uh-Huh (1984), the first collection to bear his real surname. 1985 saw an interesting reinvention, drawing on Springsteen’s stories of struggling blue-collar Americans. The sparser roots rock of Scarecrow (1985) and Lonesome Jubilee (1987) still achieved huge sales, and the latter gave Mellencamp his first British Top 40 entry. After a heart attack he collaborated with dance producer Junior Vasquez on the funkier Mr Happy Go Lucky (1996), but still retained the more traditional elements that had brought him success.
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