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Flint’s Classic Rock – 103.9 The Fox

  • Writer: John Cougar Mellencamp
  • Producers: John Cougar Mellencamp (aka the Little Bastard) and Don Gehman
  • Recorded: April 25th, 1985, at Belmont Mall in Belmont, Indiana
  • Released: November 1985
  • Players:
    John Cougar Mellencamp — vocals
    Mike Wanchic — guitar, vocals
    Larry Crane — guitar, flutophone
    John Cascella — keyboards
    Toby Myers — bass
    Kenny Aronoff — drums
    Sarah Flint — backing vocals
  • Album: Scarecrow (Riva/Mercury, 1985)
  • Also On:
    The Best That I Could Do 1978-1988 (Mercury, 1997)
    Words & Music: John Mellencamp’s Greatest Hits (Island/UTV, 2004)
  • “R.O.C.K. In The U.S.A.” peaked at Number Two on the Billboard Hot 100, making it John Mellencamp‘s highest-charting single since the John Cougar hit “Jack and Diane” in 1982.
  • As the song’s subtitle — “(A Salute To 60’s Rock)” — indicates, the song pays tribute to some of Mellencamp’s early rock-and-roll heroes. Among those he name-checks are Frankie Lyman, Bobby Fuller, Mitch Ryder, Jackie Wilson, the Shangri-las, the Young Rascals, Martha Reeves, and James Brown.
  • “R.O.C.K. In The U.S.A.” was a light-hearted counter-balance to some of the weightier material on the Scarecrow album, which dealt with emotional and political matters such as the family farm crisis in the United States.
  • Scarecrow was the last album to include any reference to “Cougar” in Mellencamp’s name. He dropped it entirely by the time he released 1987’s The Lonesome Jubilee.
  • Scarecrow peaked at Number Two on the Billboard 200.
  • Scarecrow was the first album recorded in Mellencamp’s Belmont Mall studio.
  • The album was dedicated to Mellencamp’s grandfather Speck, who died from lung cancer in 1983.


  • Shortly after Scarecrow‘s release, Mellencamp helped organize the first Farm Aid concert with Willie Nelson and Neil Young. Held September 22nd, 1985, in Champaign, Illinois, it raised several million dollars to help family farmers and featured a three-song Mellencamp set of material from Scarecrow.
  • Mellencamp continues to record and tour. Only guitarist Mike Wanchic remains with his band from the Scarecrow days.
  • Mellencamp married his third wife, model Elaine Irwin, in 1992. They’re still together and have two children, both boys. One of them is named Speck, after his late grandfather, and has sometimes played guitar in his father’s band..
  • Keyboardist-accordionist John Cascella died in an auto accident on November 14th, 1993.
  • Mellencamp received the Billboard magazine Century Award in 2001.
  • Besides music, he’s developed sideline careers in painting and filmmaking.
  • He’s been working on a Broadway musical with horror author Stephen King, but there’s no word on when it will open.
  • Mellencamp was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame on March 10th, 2008.