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De Fries insisted that Mellencamp's first album, Chestnut Street Incident, a collection of covers and a handful of original songs, be released under the stage name Johnny Cougar, insisting that the bumpy German name "Mellencamp" was too hard to market.
Mellencamp reluctantly agreed, but the album was a commercial failure, selling only 12,000 copies.
I was totally unaware of it until it showed up on the album jacket.
When I objected to it, he said, 'Well, either you're going to go for it, or we're not going to put the record out.' So that was what I had to do...
A.," "Paper in Fire,” and "Cherry Bomb." He has amassed 22 Top 40 hits in the United States.
Farm Aid concerts have remained an annual event over the past 34 years, and as of 2019 Rolling Stone contributor Anthony De Curtis said: "Mellencamp has created an important body of work that has earned him both critical regard and an enormous audience.
At Gaff's request, Mellencamp moved to London, England, for nearly a year to record, promote and tour behind 1978's A Biography.
"It was too labored over, too thought about, and it wasn't organic enough. According to the February 1986 edition of Creem Magazine, Mellencamp wanted to incorporate the sound of classic '60s rock into Scarecrow, and he gave his band close to a hundred old singles to learn "almost mathematically verbatim" prior to recording the album.
1 hit in Australia with "I Need a Lover." Riva Records added "I Need a Lover" to Mellencamp's next album released in the United States, 1979's John Cougar, where the song became a No. Pat Benatar recorded "I Need a Lover" on her debut album In the Heat of the Night. "The singles were stupid little pop songs," he told Record Magazine in 1983. It wasn't like the title was made up – it wasn't supposed to be punky or cocky like some people thought. Me and the guys in the band thought we were finished, anyway. Hell, as long as you sell a few records and the record company isn't putting a lot of money into promotion, you're making money for 'em and that's all they care about. They thought I was going to turn into the next Neil Diamond." In 1982, Mellencamp released his breakthrough album, American Fool, which contained the singles "Hurts So Good", an uptempo rock tune that spent four weeks at No.
In 1980, Mellencamp returned with the Steve Cropper-produced Nothin' Matters and What If It Did, which yielded two Top 40 singles – "This Time" (No. 2 and 16 weeks in the top 10, and "Jack & Diane", which was a No. A third single, "Hand To Hold On To", made it to No. "Hurts So Good" went on to win the Grammy Award for Best Male Rock Vocal Performance at the 25th Grammys.
In 1984, when asked about his views on drugs, he told Bill Holdship of Creem magazine, "If you want to stick needles in your arms, go ahead and fucking do it. If you listen to the lead Larry [Crane] plays on 'Face of the Nation,' he never would have played that 'cause he didn't really know who the Animals were.
You're the one that's going to pay the consequences. He's young, and he grew up listening to Grand Funk Railroad.
The record company thought it would bomb, but I think the reason it took off was – not that the songs were better than my others – but people liked the sound of it, the 'bam-bam-bam' drums. "Learning those songs did a lot of positive things," Mellencamp explained to Creem writer Bill Holdship.