John Mellencamp’s recording career began as Johnny Cougar in the mid-’70s, but it wasn’t until his fifth album — 1982’s No. 1 ‘American Fool’ — that he became a household name (and one that still was making records under his stage moniker). By 1983’s ‘Uh-Huh,’ the Indiana-born singer-songwriter had enough muscle to get his real name on his records, though it wouldn’t be until 1991’s ‘Whenever We Wanted’ that the “Cougar” would be permanently dropped. The change in names coincided with an artistic growth that culminated in 1985’s ‘Scarecrow’ and 1987’s ‘The Lonesome Jubilee,’ two of the decade’s strongest albums of heartland rock. In addition to releasing a series of albums over the years, Mellencamp directed and starred in the 1992 movie ‘Falling From Grace’ and cowrote the musical ‘Ghost Brothers of Darkland County’ with Stephen King in 2012.
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