John Mellencamp is an award-winning rocker whose songs symbolize the hopes and fears of America’s heartland. Born in Seymour, Ind., he fronted a soul band at age 14. When MCA Records released his first album, his manager dubbed him Johnny Cougar, believing no one would buy a record from someone named “Mellencamp.” His fifth album, American Fool, became the best-selling album of 1979 on the strength “Jack and Diane” and “Hurts So Good.” Hits from the 1980s include “Small Town” and “R.O.C.K. in the U.S.A.”
Mellencamp was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2008. His most recent albums were produced by T-Bone Burnett. Mellencamp is devoted to painting and has collaborated with author Stephen King on a musical theater production, Ghost Brothers of Darkland County.