John Mellencamp, previously known by the stage names Johnny Cougar, John Cougar, and John Cougar Mellencamp, (born October 7, 1951) is a Grammy-winning American rock singer-songwriter, musician, painter and occasional actor known for his rootsy, organic brand of heartland rock that is infused with catchy pop hooks and evocative, introspective lyrics about such hot-button subjects as politics, racism, poverty and mortality. Mellencamp has brought together rock, folk, country, blues and R&B into his eclectic body of work.
He has sold over 40 million albums worldwide and has amassed 22 Top 40 hits in the United States. In addition, he holds the record for the most tracks by a solo artist to hit number-one on the Hot Mainstream Rock Tracks chart, with seven, and he has been nominated for 13 Grammy Awards, winning one.
Mellencamp is also one of the founding members of Farm Aid, an organization that began in 1985 with a star-studded concert in Champaign, Illinois to raise awareness about the loss of family farms and to raise funds to keep farm families on their land. The Farm Aid concerts have remained an annual event over the past 24 years, and as of 2009 the organization has raised over $35 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, by Billy Joel. His biggest musical influences are Bob Dylan, Woody Guthrie and The Rolling Stones.