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Giggin' in Da Zone

Oh yeah, life goes on...

It was a tough motherfukka leaving Ricky and Bone, but I hooked up wit The Zone. Rehearsals started at Kenny Aronoff's house March of '82. The  guys in the band: Mike 'Chief' Wanchic and Larry Crane and Kenny and me.  'American Fool' was out and 'Jack & Diane" and 'Hurts So Good' were kicking ass on the charts. So we rehearsed 'Hurts So Good' for about two  weeks. Just us guys, no John yet.

So then Mike and Larry and Kenny are fillin' me up with horror stories about John. Well, he was Johnnie Cougar. Meow. So my first gig wit dem is 'Saturday Night Live,' April 10, 1982. No pressure. Actually, I felt no  pressure and smiled like an absolute goofball idiot through both songs.  The segment is unwatchable today.

Our mighty rock band knew two songs. So we went back to Indiana to Kenny's house to learn a few more tunes for the upcoming tour with Heart.  The daily routine was practice at Kenny's from 11-5 and then go out to the bunker at John's for the nighttime torture session.

The bunker was a sweaty underground, stanky little concrete cubicle  where John had a bed of nails and a couple of whips. Naw, jus kiddin', but the rehearsals were brutal. Absolutely. On the Heart tour we had a 40-minute opening slot, so that's about five or six 5-minute songs. So for the next four months, we rehearsed six songs. These were: 'Hurts So Good,' 'Jack & Diane,' 'Thundering Hearts,' 'Hand to Hold Onto,' 'I Need a  Lover,' and '30 Days in the Hole,' by Humble Pie.

After crawling on broken glass for four months, we finally got to leave  Indiana to hook up with Heart and start the tour. I had to play a  35-minute set about three or four times a week. We were off stage before it got dark. That's a lot of night to play with. John was huge, two singles in the Top 10, jets, limos, talk shows, TV stuff, videos, wildness.

So that Rolling Thunder went on to like Christmas and then we were done.

The next record was 'Uh-Huh.' John was by now talking to me, oh yeah,  all through the Heart rehearsals he wouldn't talk to me, he'd go, 'Larry,  tell Myers not to fuckin' do that,' standin' right next to me. So he's  finally talking to me but he won't let me play on the record. I made up  the bass parts to all the tunes on 'Uh-Huh' in rehearsals, and then when  the session started, Willie Weeks and Brother Louis Johnson were the hired guns. I'd show them the part, and then the band would cut it.


Late in the session, Louis and Willie both couldn't make it and the  'Authority Song' was up that day. I played on that cut, I think it was about two takes, and that was the last time an outsider played bass on a Mellencamp record until Michelle and Andy in 1994. What a great album done in 16 days. Let's go tour again.

Man the burners are turned up now. John bought a house down the road in  Brown County, gutted it, turned it into a recording studio, Belmont Mall. The first thing we arranged there was the song 'Scarecrow,' 15 minutes and we're done. That was a good omen 'cuz if we can jus keep hittin' these homers outta the park ... but that was a hard record to make. I remember being scared to go to Belmont to record. We all dug deep and made one of Mel's best Scarecrowwas a riot to make, 'Scarecrow.' That one  kicked some major booty so John had a big ass stage made and we went out  and headlined for 11 months. U.S., Canada, Europe, Japan. Killin. Arenas sold out. 'Oh what fun it is to ride, in a one motor little ol' plane.'  Absolute lunacy 24-7. Summers off. Excellent.

Around this time, '85, John was hiring and firing at a pretty good clip. One wardrobe guy lasted 30 minutes. I started making up a parody song out of 'The Battle of New Orleans,' by Johnnie Horton 'cuz there was  a lot of hilarious stuff goin' on, John goin off on this and that, us guys  with our excesses, circus like. Sound of cougar hissing....

The motto: no blood, no foul. At this point, we had 119 people in the  band and a couple o' thousand in the crew, and an island in the Pacific called 'Melville.' Well, it seemed like that.

After the 'Scarecrow' tour ended we went right back to Belmont Mall  'cuz John had about 40 songs to record. The whole damn family was around  to make that one, which a whole lot of critics and a whole lot of people. Like best, 'Lonesome Jubilee' is Patty P and Crystal be hangin' wit da boys and Lisa G be throwin' down along side of Johnnie C., Larry, Mike, Kenny, John and me. Outstanding. Another tour of Canada, Australia and the  states. The fun meter was always pegged. We had an absolute smokin'  football team. We called it the MFL, jerseys, refs, cheerleaders to chase, the whole deal. We'd play these other teams every Sunday starting around Thanksgiving. Teams from like Polygram, firemen, whatever. Teams would challenge us. We played Billy Joel and his band once and I had my brother  Mark go over to their sidelines and kind of mingle in and see what they  were saying and they were goin' , 'Fuck a bunch of Indiana, fuck dese  guys.' We were beating them so bad we all laid down on a kickoff once and  they still couldn't score. Hey, we didn't start the fire.

Farm Aid had started up the year before and it was at that gig that I  crossed paths with the future co-host of my new talk show 'Hello there,  ladies and gentlemen.' His name, Kevin Holman, known to those in the biz as Rocky, Rock, the Rockman. Rocky's a piece of work unequaled, and we're  working on a 15-minute show that's gonna kill. Cheap Trick's gonna be the house band. Maybe.

John was working on a movie script called 'Souvenirs,' that got made about, I dunno, a little later on. The movie is called 'Falling from Grace.' John calls it 'Falling Asleep.' That always makes me laugh... He gave me a part in it and that week amongst the corn and the moon and the whole shebang, most excellent. The movie's on cable all the time; last week on Bravo. A little before the movie, 'Big Daddy' was recorded. Great  songs. Kinda dark. Keep 'em comin'. What a bad ass band.

At this point Dieter says, 'Your story has become tiresome.' Liebe Mein  Abst Minkey.

Most noteworthy in the '90s: 'Whenever We Wanted' David Grissom  greatness. Check out David on 'Big Daddy' too. 'Human Wheels' really strong old school Mellencamp. Kenny, Lisa, me and the Chief, Johnnie C,  David.

And new crew Mellencamp, Moe Z MD, Andy, and Miriam on 1996's 'Mr. Happy Go Lucky.' Dig up Track #6 'Emotional Love.'

Thank you. Thank you very much.

"That Night was a Motherfukka." Don King 1982

“Cry havoc and let slip the dogs of war”


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