John J Mellencamp (born October 7, 1951), previously known as Johnny Cougar, John Cougar, and John Cougar Mellencamp, is an American musician, singer-songwriter, painter, and actor. He is known for his catchy, populist brand of heartland rock, which emphasizes traditional instrumentation. Mellencamp rose to fame 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.O.C.K. in the U.S.A.", "Paper in Fire", and "Cherry Bomb". He 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. Mellencamp has been nominated for 13 Grammy Awards, winning one. Mellencamp released his latest album, Sad Clowns & Hillbillies, on April 28, 2017, to widespread critical acclaim.
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Here's the thing with me and the religious thing. This is the flat-out truth: I find the religiosity and philosophy in the music. I don't find it anywhere else. Songs like "Let Me Rest on a Peaceful Mountain" or "I Saw the Light" — that's my religion. I don't adhere to rabbis, preachers, evangelists, all of that. . . . The songs are my lexicon. I believe the songs.