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Mellencamp Going Into the Songwriters Hall of Fame

Former drummer talks about what an education he got being in the Mellecamp band

SEYMOUR, Ind.--John Mellencamp will be inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame, for the 2018 class. The induction ceremony is June 14.

Mellencamp in Indiana

Mellencamp is known for a brand of rock that can be credited to his Indiana roots, called "heartland rock", with songs like "Jack and Diane" and "Small Town" as some of his biggest hits.

Mellancamp attended Vincennes University and part of I-65 is named in his honor.

Getting an education from the man

Drummer Kenney Aronoff, an IU graduate, joined Mellencamp's band in 1980, ulitmately recording 10 albums and touring with him. He says he and Mellencamp didn't understand each other at first, and that led to him missing out on being on Mellencamp's first record.

But, he learned a big lesson, thanks to Mellancamp.

"That's a very life-changing moment for me," said Aronoff. "I didn't understand what my purpose was as a drummer and my role in the John Mellencamp band was to get his songs to be on the radio and to be number one."

Told to go home

But, Aronoff wasn't used to playing for a singer-songwriter. His drumming was hard and tough. Mellencamp told him to go home while session musicians were brought in who could get the job done quickly.

"When John was starting to tell me, you go home, I just said, I'm not going home. I'm gonna sit here and learn and watch what these guys do. I said you don't have to pay me and I'll sleep on the floor and whatever. He didn't pay me and I did sleep on the floor. It was a huge education for me."

Aronoff went on to play for John Fogerty for 20 years. He later found out it wasn't Mellencamp who told him to go home.

"He told me for the first time recently it was Steve Cropper, the producer, who needed to get this record done fast and didn't have time to work with me."

Aronoff's drumming became mega important to the Mellencamp sound, with fills you hear on the big hits, like :Jack and Diane.

PHOTO: Donaldson Collection/Getty Images

Interview with Kenny Aronoff, former Mellencamp drummer

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