John Mellencamp donates archives and memorabilia to Indiana University

John Mellencamp
John Mellencamp is on tour to promote his 2022 album, "Strictly a One-Eyed Jack." (Marc Hauser photo provided by Sacks & Co.)

Indiana University’s Bloomington campus is expected to become a significant destination for John Mellencamp fans, thanks to Friday’s announcements that the Rock and Roll Hall of Famer is donating his archives to the school and that a sculpture honoring the “Pink Houses” singer is planned on campus.

News of the donation of documents, photographs, instruments and other memorabilia arrived as part of Friday’s “Mellencamp Symposium” devoted to scholar-led sessions and a conversation between Mellencamp and Rolling Stone journalist Anthony DeCurtis at IU’s Franklin Hall.

“John’s impact on music and American culture is immense,” Indiana University President Pamela Whitten said in prepared remarks. “On behalf of Hoosiers everywhere, I am exceptionally proud of John’s lifelong association with IU and deeply grateful to him for selecting the university as the permanent home for his archives.”

Whitten said the collection of items donated by the Farm Aid co-founder will be a resource for arts scholars and a source of inspiration for students

Mellencamp is the latest rock star to preserve his work in an academic setting. The University of Tulsa in Oklahoma acquired the Bob Dylan Archive in 2016. Monmouth University in New Jersey launched its Bruce Springsteen Archives and Center for American Music in 2017.

A sculpture honoring Mellencamp’s artistic legacy is planned near the Fine Arts Plaza on campus, Whitten said. Donors—including John and Michelle Vickery, Randy Hoffman and Allen Grubman—will finance the sculpture. Hoffman manages Mellencamp’s career, and Grubman is his attorney.

The campus is home to previously installed sculptures that depict songwriter Hoagy Carmichael and journalist Ernie Pyle.

Also announced Friday: an exhibition of Mellencamp’s visual artwork during the 2023-24 academic year at the Sidney and Lois Eskenazi Museum of Art at Indiana University.

Mellencamp, 71, launched a concert tour to promote 2022 album “Strictly a One-Eyed Jack” Feb. 5 at IU Auditorium. The tour will resume March 11 in Portland, Oregon.

After growing up in Seymour, Indiana, Mellencamp found mainstream success during the 1980s when a four-album streak of “American Fool,” “Uh-Huh,” “Scarecrow” and “The Lonesome Jubilee” sold more than 16 million copies.

In 1996, Mellencamp donated $1.5 million to Indiana University toward the construction of an indoor sports practice facility. The John Mellencamp Pavilion is used by the school’s football, soccer, baseball, softball and golf teams.

In 2000, he delivered the spring commencement address at IU and received an honorary doctorate in musical arts.

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8 thoughts on “John Mellencamp donates archives and memorabilia to Indiana University

  1. John Cougar Mellencamp when he started. Or Johnny Cougar at first. Saw him open for Heart, the Houston fans were louder for John’s band than for Heart. The next year John was the headliner. And so it goes. . .

  2. Ha! Yes, he was John Cougar and I want to say without even “Mellencamp” at the outset. And to John M., positivity is your friend, my virtual friend. Sarcasm isn’t positivity. Good luck to you.

  3. He is an outstanding songwriter and at times a humble and charming personality. But generally he is a pompous ass that is not in touch with anything remotely related to the Midwest. He has made millions being an American yet refuses at times to stand for the National Anthem. That is someone that is absorb with themselves.

  4. For those who wondered, like I did, as to why he doesn’t stand, here goes:
    According to Mellencamp’s daughter, Teddi,
    given that he doesn’t “talk to the press”, she explained that he doesn’t sit out of disrespect for the county or anyone. ”Since as long as I can remember, my dad has never stood for the national anthem,” Teddi continued. “He’s never once told me I shouldn’t.” His reasoning? “He believes the national anthem is a war song … He’s been to countless games, and he’s never stood for the anthem once. He loves his country as much as anybody … But as this is the land of the free, it’s his right not to stand for something he considers to be a war anthem.”