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John Cougar | American Fool Promo Poster

Even the record company fools couldn't keep this from being his breakthrough.

Now, of course, he’s John Mellencamp. But back in 1982 he was still John Cougar. And his fifth album American Fool was his commercial breakthrough, thanks to hits like Hurts So Good, Jack & Diane and Hand To Hold On To. Amazingly enough, however — or perhaps not, given the notorious stupidity of record companies — his label at the time reportedly weren’t happy with the album. “We had 20 or so songs, we had a record company that was hoping we were making a Neil Diamond‑type album, and after we spent two or three months in the studio recording these songs and mixing them to the best of our ability, I can remember an A&R guy in a pink shirt coming in to listen to them and basically thinking we had nothing,” producer Don Gehman stated in a 2011 interview that appears on the album’s Wikipedia page. “At that point, they put a stop to the project. We had Jack & Diane, we had Hand To Hold On To, we had Weakest Moments — we had some good songs — and while I don’t know the precise nature of the discussions that took place, (the record company) went from wanting to get a new producer to not even wanting John on the label anymore. Finally, they came around to letting us finish it but wanting to hear the new songs we were going to cut.” The rest, of course, is history. And people wonder why Mellencamp is so cranky. I doubt reminders like this 24″ X 36″ poster make him nostalgic for the good old days. Even so, I think it’s a fairly cool collectible. If you agree — and would like to add it to your collection — drop me an email.