64 years ago today John Mellencamp was born in a little Pink House in a Small Town in Indiana. When he first came into the public’s consciousness he was known as John or Johnny Cougar as his manager thought his last name was unmarketable.
The Coug released three albums between 1976 and 1981 that yielded a few Top 40 hits. His big break came in 1982 with the release of the album American Fool which spawned his first #1 hit, Jack & Diane. The success of this album allowed John to reincorporate his last name into his stage name and he began performing as John Cougar Mellencamp from 1983-1990.
In 1983 JCM released the album Uh-Huh which contained three of his most classic songs, Pink Houses, Crumblin’ Down and Authority Song. He followed this with perhaps his greatest effort with the release of the album Scarecrow in 1985. Shortly after the release of this album, The Coug joined forces with Willie Nelson and Neil Young in staging the Farm Aid concert. Farm Aid has been held annually since then and has raised over $40 million to benefit American farmers.
In 1991 Mellencamp dropped the name Cougar and has been steadily performing under his given name since then. He started working with producer T-Bone Burnett in the late 2000s and released an excellent album in 2008 called Life, Death, Love and Freedom. Of late Mellencamp has taken on a more folk or roots-based sound and has continued putting out solid music. 2014 saw the release of his latest album Plain Spoken.
Mellencamp has produced over twenty Top 40 hits and has won one Grammy while being nominated for twelve more. Billy Joel inducted him into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2008. To return the favor, Mellencamp recently started dating Joel's ex-wife Christie Brinkley.
Here is The Coug with Rain on the Scarecrow off the 1985 album Scarecrow: