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Published November 10, 2010 More Info »
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Published November 10, 2010
It’s been twenty years since Rock and Roll superstar John Mellencamp parted ways with his longtime stage name, Cougar. I recently caught up with Cougar at his modest home in Boulder, Colorado. A single gold record, hanging among family photos in a hallway, is the only visible memento from his fourteen-year collaboration with Mellencamp.

Tim: What did you do after the split?


Cougar: I continued to write songs. I wrote a couple of country hits for Reba in the ‘90s. Then I retired from the business for good in 2000.


Tim: Any talk about a possible reunion with John?


Cougar: No. We really haven’t talked since 1994. We’re no longer close, but I wish him well. I’ve moved on.

Tim: That must have been tough after being such an important part of Mellencamp’s early career?

Cougar: It wasn’t easy, that’s true. Harder for me than most, I guess. It was John Cougar before John Cougar Mellencamp, remember.

Tim: Of course.

Cougar: I brought a toughness to the act. Made him into an MTV star. Nowadays, that’s not as important. A goofy name like Mellencamp can work. Look at Michael Bublé.

Tim: Obviously, you feel like you helped get John where he is today.

Cougar: Today? No. Is he anywhere today? (Laughs) Just kidding. I got him to 1990, and then he didn’t feel like he needed me anymore. That’s show business, I guess.

Tim: In a way, you were a victim of your own success. You helped make him so popular that he didn’t need you anymore.

Cougar: Art Garfunkel warned me about that in 1985. I should have listened.

Tim: What are you up to today?

Cougar: When I retired from show business and married Amber (from Tiffani-Amber Thiessen fame), my whole outlook started to change. I became more active in dropped stage name support.

Tim: Tell us more about that.

Cougar: Amber and I reach out to others who have been tossed aside. We help them see that they can still live successful lives outside of show business. And we don’t just work with discarded stage names. After Beyoncé left for her solo career, we provided counseling and support to the rest of Destiny’s Child.

Tim: Any advice you’d give stage names out there today?

Cougar: Enjoy the ride. You never know when it’s going to end.
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