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John Mellencamp

Mellencamp is of German ancestry. He was born with spina bifida, for which he had corrective surgery as an infant. He formed his first band, Crepe Soul, at the age of 14 and later played in the local bands Trash, Snakepit Banana Barn and the Mason Brothers.

He eloped with his pregnant girlfriend Priscilla Esterline at the age of 18[8] and became a father in December 1970, six months after he graduated from high school. His daughter Michelle became a mother at age 19, making Mellencamp a grandfather at 37.

Mellencamp attended Vincennes University, a two-year college in Vincennes, Indiana, starting in 1972. During this time he used drugs and alcohol, stating in a 1986 Rolling Stone interview, "When I was high on pot, it affected me so drastically that when I was in college there were times when I wouldn't get off the couch. I would lie there, listening to Roxy Music, right next to the record player so I wouldn't have to get up to flip the record over. I'd listen to this record, that record. There would be four or five days like that when I would be completely gone."

Upon graduating from Vincennes University in 1974, Mellencamp played in several local bands including the aforementioned glitter-band Trash, which was named after a New York Dolls song, and he later got a job in Seymour installing telephones. At this time, Mellencamp, who had given up drugs and alcohol for good before graduating from Vincennes University, decided to pursue a career in music and traveled to New York City in an attempt to land a record contract.


Mellencamp is also one of the founding members of Farm Aid, an organization that began in 1985 with a concert in Champaign, Illinois to raise awareness about the loss of family farms and to raise funds to keep farm families on their land. The Farm Aid concerts have remained an annual event over the past 29 years, and as of 2015 the organization has raised over $45 million to promote a strong and resilient family farm system of agriculture.

Mellencamp was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame on March 10, 2008. His biggest musical influences are Bob Dylan, Woody Guthrie, James Brown and The Rolling Stones. Said longtime Rolling Stone contributor Anthony DeCurtis: "Mellencamp has created an important body of work that has earned him both critical regard and an enormous audience. His songs document the joys and struggles of ordinary people seeking to make their way, and he has consistently brought the fresh air of common experience to the typically glamour-addled world of popular music."

The late Billboard magazine editor-in-chief Timothy White said in 2001: "John Mellencamp is arguably the most important roots rocker of his generation. John has made fiddles, hammer dulcimers, Autoharps and accordions lead rock instruments on a par with electric guitar, bass and drums, and he also brought what he calls 'a raw Appalachian' lyrical outlook to his songs. Mellencamp's best music is rock 'n roll stripped of all escapism, and it looks directly at the messiness of life as it's actually lived. In his music, mortality, anxiety, acts of God, questions of romance and brotherhood, and crises of conscience all collide and demand hard decisions......This is rock music that tells the truth on both its composer and the culture he's observing."


John Mellencamp, previously known by the stage names John Cougar and John Cougar Mellencamp, (born October 7, 1951, in Seymour, Indiana) is a Grammy-winning American rock singer-songwriter, musician, artist and occasional actor.
His biggest musical influences are Bob Dylan, Woody Guthrie and The Rolling Stones.
Mellencamp was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame on March 10, 2008, by Billy Joel.
In 2005, Mellencamp got the opportunity to tour with two of his idols — Donovan and John Fogerty.

 

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