What is John Mellencamp doing these days

In 2014 John Mellencamp released his 22nd studio album, "Plain Spoken", which he presented on a tour through the USA and Canada from January 2015. In February 2015 he is playing in Chicago.

Born in the USA in 1951, Mellencamp had a difficult childhood and adolescence. He came into conflict with the law several times, became a father for the first time at the age of 19 and moved to New York at the age of 24 with no prospect of a job. He knows one thing: he wants to be a musician.

David Bowie's agent secures a record deal for Mellencamp, but the 1976 debut is a flop. Mellencamp is upset because his agent also renames the musician "Johnny Cougar". He moved to England for a few months in 1977 and, back in the USA, landed the longed-for number 1 hit in 1982 with "Jack & Diane".

Still on the road as John Cougar Mellencamp, he created his biggest hit in 1983 with "Pink Houses" and discovered folk rock for himself from the mid-1980s. In his songs he now addresses the problems of the American rural and small town population.

Together with Willie Nelson he organizes the annual "Farm Aid" fundraiser, at which Neil Young appears among others. The light music rocker becomes a serious musician who becomes a grandfather for the first time at the age of 37 and is voted "Sexiest Grandfather Alive" by a women's magazine. From 1987 he started using acoustic instruments like violin and accordion and influenced musicians like Sheryl Crow and Bruce Springsteen with this new sound.

After a heart attack, he followed a vegetarian diet, interpreted American folklore songs by Woody Guthrie on his 2003 album "Trouble No More" and developed into a political songwriter. His 2007 album "Freedom's Road" is his commentary on the political situation in the style of American protest songs.

Mellencamp himself now calls his style "American Folk as it has always been" and records his 2010 album "No Better Than This" with just a single room microphone on an old tape machine.

3sat presents the Chicago concert of the dazzling singer-songwriter, who now calls himself John Mellencamp again and is inducted into the Rock and Hall of Fame together with Madonna in 2008, with his powerful mix of blues, country, rockabilly and folk rock and his big hits.

Chicago Theater, Chicago, Illinois, USA, 2015