Today's classic comes from an artist who spent the 80's as the leader of the "heartland rock" movement of the mid-80's, a style that emphasizes traditional instrumentation. But long before he became a rock star, he went to art school and has continued painting throughout his music career as hobby and stress reliever.

John Mellancamp at Carnegie Hall on April 20, 2015 in New York City.
photo courtesy of Brad Barket/Getty Images Entertainment

John Mellencamp played in a number of bands with a number of styles around his homestate of Indiana before being discovered in New York City in 1975. His first album, Chestnut Street Incident, a collection of cover songs with a couple of originals thrown in, was released by MCA Records in 1975. His management team convinced him that his given last name was too "bumpy" and hard to market, so they "persuaded" Mellencamp to release the album under the stage name Johnny Cougar.  The singer would later admit that "persuaded" may be a misrepresentation, as he didn't discover the name change until after the album was released.

John Mellancamp onstage at the 25th anniversary MusiCares 2015 Person Of The Year Gala honoring Bob Dylan at the Los Angeles Convention Center on February 6, 2015 in Los Angeles, California.
photo courtesy of Larry Busacca/Getty Images Entertainment

The album was a total flop, selling less than 1,200 copies. Mellencamp would record a follow-up album in 1977, The Kid Inside", but his manager, Tony DeFries refused to allow the album to be released and Mellencamp would be dropped by MCA. (DeFries would finally allow the album to be released in 1983, after the singer found success.) After a manager switch, Mellencamp signed with indy label Riva Records, moving to London to record his next project. In 1978, he released A Biography, which, while selling better than his debut album, was not the hit he had hoped for. He did have a number 1 single in Australia, "I Need A Lover", which peaked at #28 in the U.S. Pat Benetar would cover the song for her debut album, 1980's In The Heat of the Night, her first top-10 hit.

2016 ASCAP Pop Awards - Inside
Photo by Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images for ASCAP

1980's release Nothin' Matters, and What If It Did? was the beginning of Mellencamp's rise. The album featured two top-40 hits and launched him on his way. It was also the beginning of his independence, which might just be the reason for his success. After his 1982 breakthrough album, American Fool, he returned his given name to his stage name, recording and touring as John Cougar Mellencamp. By 1990, he dropped "Cougar" altogether, being known simply by his given name.

Mellencamp has recorded 22 albums under one name or another, 14 of them have been certified as gold or platinum. The albums have produced 9 #1 hits on either the pop, adult contemporary or mainstream rock charts. In his spare time he continues to paint, having had his work displayed at several major galleries, and he is also a founder and long-time driving force behind Farm Aid. His 23rd album, due out in next Friday will be titled Sad Clowns & Hillbillies, and will feature Carlene Carter and Martina McBride. The lead single from the album is in our spotlight today.

TJ Martell Honors Gala, Nashville - Show
Photo by Rick Diamond/Getty Images for TJ Martell Foundation

Brought to you by All American Super Car Wash, John Mellencamp featuring Martina McBride with "Grandview" is our Catch of the Day. It's new music you haven't heard, but you want to hear it again. And if you comment, share or like our Catch of the Day, you will be entered into our daily drawing for a $25 gift card courtesy of All American Super Car Wash of Lawton.

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