John Mellencamp Biography

John Mellencamp is an American rock musician and painter famous for promoting heartland rock. This biography provides detailed information about his childhood, life, achievements, works & timeline.

Quick Facts

Birthday: October 7, 1951

Nationality: American

Famous: Quotes By John Mellencamp Rock Singers

Age: 68 Years, 68 Year Old Males

Sun Sign: Libra

Also Known As: John Cougar Mellencamp, John J Mellencamp

Born in: Seymour

Famous as: Musician, Singer-Songwriter

Height: 5'8" (173 cm), 5'8" Males


Spouse/Ex-: Elaine Irwin Mellencamp (m. 1992–2011), Priscella Mellencamp (m. 1970–1981), Victoria Granucci (m. 1981–1989)

children: Hud Mellencamp, Justice Mellencamp, Michelle Mellencamp, Speck Mellencamp, Teddi Jo Mellencamp

U.S. State: Indiana

More Facts

education: Vincennes University

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John Mellencamp is a rock musician who specializes in the genre of heartland rock characterized by traditional instrumentation. A highly successful artist, he has sold over 40 million albums worldwide and has seven No.1 hits on the Hot Mainstream Rock Tracks—the maximum for a solo artist. He had always been musically inclined and formed his first band when he was just 14 years old. He also played with several other local bands. As a teenager he became addicted to alcohol and drugs, and even became a father at 19! When realization dawned upon him, the young man vowed to change his ways and left behind his old ways of life. His initial years as a musician were a struggle and his debut album ‘Chestnut Street Incident’, released under the stage name, Johnny Cougar, was a big failure. Over the next few years he could manage to get some moderate hits, but finally found big success with the album ‘American Fool’ which catapulted him to superstardom. His works are not just popular and commercially successful, but have also achieved high critical appreciation. In addition to being a musician, he is also a painter who often holds exhibitions to showcase his work.

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Childhood & Early Life
  • He went to New York to pursue a career in music. There he met Tony DeFries who insisted that he adopt the stage name of Johnny Cougar. His first album, ‘Chestnut Street Incident’, a collection of covers, was released under his new stage name in 1976. The album was a failure.
  • After struggling for the next couple of years, he got his first big hit in 1979 with the song ‘I Need A Lover’ that was featured in his album ‘John Cougar’. The album also had the tracks ‘Miami’ and ‘Small Paradise’.
  • The year 1982 was a great one for him—his album ‘American Fool’ became his breakthrough. It peaked at No.1 on the Billboard 200 chart and became the best-selling album of that year. It had the singles ‘Diane & Jack’ and ‘Hurts So Good’.
  • ‘Scarecrow’ (1985) reached No.2 on the U.S. charts. Three singles from the album became Top 10 hits: ‘R.O.C.K. in the U.S.A.’, ‘Lonely Ol’ Night’, and ‘Small Town’.
  • His 1987 album ‘The Lonesome Jubilee’ was one of his most successful one. It was a tribute to his beloved uncle who had been suffering from cancer and had died during its recording. The soulful album charted worldwide in ten countries.
  • Over the 1980s he began to tour and performed extensively all over the world in that decade. He hailed from rural America, and many of his songs reflect the rustic spirit of the lands he grew up in.
  • The album ‘Human Wheels’, released in 1993, reached No.7 on the Billboard 200. It was followed by the release of ‘Dance Naked’ in 1994; the single ‘Wild Night’ was the most successful in the album.
  • In 1996 he released the album ‘Mr. Happy Go Lucky’ which was experimental in nature. He had suffered a near-fatal heart attack in 1994, and this album reflected his brush with death.
  • The decade of 2000s was not very kind to his musical career. He released several albums including ‘Cuttin’ Heads’ (2001), ‘Trouble No More’ (2003), and ‘Life, Death, Love and Freedom’ (2008), but none of these could repeat the success he enjoyed during the past decades.
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  • He is also a very skilled painter. Even though his music career overshadowed his painting career, he continues to paint as a means of creative expression. He also holds regular exhibitions of his paintings.
Major Works
  • ‘American Fool’ was his breakthrough album which launched his career as a popular rock musician. It was the best-selling album of the year and has achieved multi-platinum status in both the U.S. and Canada—it also peaked at No.1 in both the countries.
  • His album ‘Scarecrow’ which peaked at No.2 on the U.S. charts was ranked amongst the list of ‘100 greatest albums of the 1980s’ by the ‘Rolling Stone’ magazine. The album had a rustic appeal and was based on the theme of the fading American Dream.
Awards & Achievements
  • He has received 13 Grammy Award nominations so far. He won the Grammy Award for Best Male Rock Performer for ‘Hurts So Good’ in 1982. In 1991 he was presented with the Nordoff-Robbins Silver Clef Special Music Industry Humanitarian Award.
Personal Life & Legacy
  • As a 19 year old he had eloped with and married his pregnant girlfriend, Priscilla Esterline. The couple had a daughter. The marriage ended in 1981.
  • His second marriage was to Victoria Granucci in 1981. The couple divorced in 1989. They have two daughters.
  • He married again in 1992. He had two sons with his third wife, Elaine Irwin before divorcing her in 2011.
  • He is one of the founding members of ‘Farm Aid’, a benefit concert held to raise money for those farmers who were in danger of losing their farms through mortgage debt. Several prominent musicians like Bob Dylan, Billy Joel and Roy Orbison have performed in the concerts.


Grammy Awards
1983 Best Rock Vocal Performance, Male Winner

See the events in life of John Mellencamp in Chronological Order

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