Lost or Forgotten Oldie of the Day 07/24/2019

Many singers have appeared on the charts with multiple groups, and a number of them have appeared using two different names to avoid contract problems with their record label, but at least one has appeared on the charts with three or four almost identical names.

John Mellencamp was born in Indiana and grew up and even graduated from college there as well. When his career as a telephone installer didn’t turn out to provide the future he was hoping for, John started traveling to New York City to pursue a career as a singer. He eventually recorded an album that sold about 12,000 copies. He was not pleased when he discovered that his manager changed his name to Johnny Cougar on the record. The manager claimed the change was made because Mellencamp sounded too much like a hillbilly.

John’s second album, The Kid Inside, was recorded in 1977 but his record label decided they didn’t want to release it. The label eventually dropped him completely.

John signed up with Rod Stewart’s manager, Billy Gaff, and moved to London for a year to record and promote his next album, A Biography. John was able to get the company to upgrade his stage name from Johnny to John Cougar. One song on the album reached the top five in Australia in 1978 and the record company added I Need A Lover to his next album as well. When the single was re-released in 1979 it got as high as #28 in the US. The record label on the single was still John Cougar, but the writing credit on the label was John “COUGAR” Mellencamp.

The next single from that album failed to get any higher than #87 and the last single from the album didn’t even reach the top 100.

John finally began to catch a break with the release of Nothin’ Matters and What If It Did. The first single from the album, This Time, reached #27, and the second single, Ain’t Even Done With The Night, did even better; it got up to #17 on January 1981. The video for the song featured four men in strange suits dancing in the background while John sang.

And in at least one broadcast performance, John was backed up by dancers in pink tuxedos, most of whom looked a lot like the ones in his video.

The last single from that album stiffed, but John’s next album produced records that reached #2 and #1. After that accomplishment, John was finally able to get his record company to bill him as John Cougar Mellencamp. It took nearly nine more years before he was able to reclaim his name and finally record using his hillbilly name, John Mellencamp.

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