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(born October 7, 1951), also known as John Cougar Mellencamp, is an American musician, singer-songwriter, painter, and actor. Mellencamp released his latest album, Plain Spoken, on September 23, 2014, to widespread critical acclaim.
He is known for his catchy, populist brand of heartland rock, which emphasizes traditional instrumentation. 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.
His father, Richard Mellencamp, was a physical disciplinarian who often discouraged his son from spending time with friends or having friends over to their house.
Mellencamp 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.
Said longtime Rolling Stone contributor Anthony De Curtis: "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." John Mellencamp is arguably the most important roots rocker of his generation.
He rose to superstardom in the 1980s while "honing an almost startlingly plainspoken writing style that, starting in 1982, yielded a string of Top 10 singles," including "Hurts So Good," "Jack & Diane," "Crumblin' Down," "Pink Houses," "Lonely Ol' Night," "Small Town," "R. Farm Aid concerts have remained an annual event over the past 31 years, and as of 2016 the organization has raised over 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.
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.
When Mellencamp was 18, he and his pregnant girlfriend Priscilla Esterline, eloped.