John Mellencamp has started the campaign for his new album by talking about why he left one of his old labels.
The Indiana rocker told Howard Stern that he parted ways with Columbia Records in 2001 over a racist remark by the company's then-president while discussing Mellencamp's then-new album, "Cuttin' Heads" -- which featured a collaborations with rapper Chuck D. and singer India.Arie.
Mellencamp remembered that during a discussion with his manager, the Columbia executive "said, 'I don't know why Mellencamp insists on having these n*****s singing with him. It makes it impossible to get him (on the radio)...And don't forget, all of Columbia was making their money off of rap at the time, and hip-hop. And here was this guy using that word. My next call was to (attorney) Allen Grubman, and I just said, 'Get me off this label -- now!'"
Mellencamp said Columbia Vice-President Larry Jenkins also lost his job at the label for objecting to the comment. Mellencamp released just one more album with Columbia, 2003's Trouble No More, before moving on.
His new album, Sad Clowns and Hillbillies, a collaboration with Carlene Carter, comes out April 28.
Mellencamp also told Stern that he and recent girlfriend Meg Ryan parted on bad terms, noting that, "I love Meg Ryan. She hates me to death. I think it's because I'm a child. I throw fits. I gripe. I complain. I'm moody. Every bad thing that a fella can be, that's me...She doesn't want anything to do with me, and I can't blame her."
Gary Graff is an award-winning music journalist who not only covers music but has written books on Bob Seger, Neil Young and Bruce Springsteen.