Watch John Cougar Mellencamp Performs “Jack & Diane” In 1982

Watch John Cougar Mellencamp Performs “Jack & Diane” In 1982 | I Love Classic Rock Videos

via 1980'sRareAndUnreleased / Youtube

Known at the time as “John Cougar,” American singer-songwriter John Mellencamp is credited with writing and singing the song “Jack & Diane.” This “love ballad,” as reviewers have called it, was Mellencamp’s second single from the 1982 album American Fool.

Jack & Diane, as stated by Mellencamp, was inspired by the Tennessee Williams film Sweet Bird of Youth, which was released in 1962. On the subject of the song’s recording, he remarked: “‘Jack & Diane’ was a terrible record to make. When I play it on guitar by myself, it sounds great; but I could never get the band to play along with me. That’s why the arrangement’s so weird. Stopping and starting, it’s not very musical.” Nevertheless, the song gave so much potential which catapulted John Cougar to mainstream success.

Moreover, the original version of this song had an interracial couple named Jack and Diane. Mellencamp was inspired by the many mixed-race couples he saw during his concerts (Jack was black, Diane was white). After a record industry executive heard what he was working on, he suggested changing Jack to a football star instead of a racial character to increase the song’s commercial viability. After removing the racial element, the song became more accessible to a wider range of Mellencamp fans, particularly in the Midwest.

To this day, “Jack & Diane” remains to be Mellencamp’s most successful single. You can watch the singer perform the song live on SCTV.