John Mellencamp’s 14 year-old son using Facebook to get dad to quit smoking

I came away with so much respect for John Mellencamp after hearing his interview on NPR’s Fresh Air earlier this year. (You can listen to the interview on or read the transcript.) When NPR replayed the interview, I actually listened to it a second time it was so good. Mellencamp talked to host Teri Gross about some of the changes in his life, and particularly how he’d changed as a person by facing his own mortality. His perspective was really thought-provoking and more than a little deep. The line in his song “Longest Days,” “life is short in it’s longest days,” came from his grandmother, who said it to him when she was 100 years old and he was just 45.

In an interesting side note, Mellencamp dropped the “Cougar” middle name in the early 90s. He explained that the “Cougar” moniker was made up by a music manager he was working with in the late 70s and that he’ll never really be able to shake it. “I still walk down the street and people would say, hey John Cougar, you know, I hear it all [the] time. Or John Cougar Mellencamp…. that’s what it was, you know… that’s just the fate… that’s the way God handed it out to me and that’s the cards I’m dealt and so I deal with it.”

Mellencamp, 58, had a mild heart attack in 1994. He admitted on Fresh Air that he was warned ahead of time by doctors to quit smoking and go on cholesterol medication. He said “I had a mild heart attack because I smoke and because I have high cholesterol, and for 10 years before that, doctors were telling me, John, you need to get on cholesterol medicine, and my answer was always the same. Am I all right now? And they go yeah, you’re all right now, but you’re heading for disaster. Okay, well, I’ll deal with disaster when it gets here. Well, it got here.”

15 years later and Mellencamp is still smoking. His 14 year-old son, Speck, is trying to get him to stop. Speck made a deal with his dad that if he got a million people to join a Facebook group dedicated to the cause that Mellencamp would kick the habit. According to Mellencamp’s rep, the group is legitimate.

There are over 47,000 members as of the time I’m writing this, and the comments on the group are overwhelmingly positive and encouraging. There are plenty of well wishes from former smokers who mention that it’s hard but possible and is the best thing you can do for your health. We’re rooting for you, John, and we’re sure the group will get the million members it needs to encourage you to make the change. You can do it!

Mellencamp is shown in the header on 5/3/09 and below at an inaugural event on 1/19/09, back when we thought Obama was liberal. Credit: PNP/


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23 Responses to “John Mellencamp’s 14 year-old son using Facebook to get dad to quit smoking”

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  1. Firestarter says:

    Good for the kid!

    However, I would think his children and wife would be reason enough for him to want to quit smoking.

  2. Alexa says:

    RE the link to Wonderwall’s Ten Un-Sexiest Actors – I DISAGREE with their Philip Seymour Hoffman choice. I just want it on record that I would drop everything and run to him in a New York minute. LOVE HIM! I think he’s irresistable and adorable! (Call me, Phil sweetie… xoxoxo)

  3. Raven says:

    If his son is working that hard to get him to quit, you’d think he’d get the message and just quit.

  4. princess pea says:

    @ Firestarter – Right? What’s the difference if 1,000,000 strangers think he should quit? Do it for them, and not for your family? It’s odd.

    But all the same, good on Speck. Pressuring my parents to quit never worked, but best of luck to him.

  5. Stella says:

    @Raven- if it were only that easy! However, princess pea is right- pressuring someone to quit almost never works (I know from experience). For someone to be successful they have to want it for themselves and be dedicated to making the change. It took me 10 years to get there after my family and friends tried to pressure me for a long time… but I finally decided to stop- for me and I haven’t smoked in almost 2 years. Its a tough thing to beat but its completely doable! Hopefully John is getting himself into the proper frame-of-mind while his son works to meet his goal!

    p.s.- help his son out and join his cause if you are on facebook- I just did!

  6. SolitaryAngel says:

    Yoiks! I’ve never seen his whole face before—Jesus, man put the hair back down…

    And quit for your FAMILY–it’s being selfish that you’re continuing this behavior knowing you are taking time with your loved ones away from them with every puff! :/

  7. snowball says:

    You’d think a heart attack would make anyone try and try and try again to quit the cancer sticks. My ex father-in-law was so freaked out, he went cold turkey and ten years on, he still won’t smoke.

    I doubt a million Facebook-ers are going to get him to quit if he hasn’t already had enough incentive to do it. I feel badly for his kid, feeling like HE has to do something beyond just being his son to get his dad to quit.

    I guess Elaine Irwin-Mellencamp likes licking an ashtray.

  8. Tia C says:

    Wow, smokers truly HAVE become complete social pariahs, haven’t they? I don’t know why I’m so surprised at the high-horse, judgy comments on here so far. Quitting smoking is extremely difficult for some people. It is one of the worst addictions. He will quit when he’s good and ready, although I do hope for his health’s sake that it’s sooner rather than later.

  9. Eileen Yover says:

    My whole childhood was hazed with cigarette smoke. My parents smoked like chimneys. It was horrible, even when I was eating or riding in the car. I never EVER touched a cigarette because of it.
    I wish they would make them illegal, but it goes to show you how completely messed up our system is. Smoking something with over 600 ingredients added into it-most are poisonous and addictive, yet picking something up out of the earth and smoking it is illegal. I’ve never smoked pot either, but common sense says that IF you’re going to smoke, the weed is probably WAY more healthy can something that makes you shake, have cancer, and breathing problems!

  10. hatsumomo says:

    Thats sweet of his son to try and acampain for his dad’s health.

    but really, some people just don’t want to quit. When I first met my ex-boyfriend’s dad, the man smoked. I, being the non smoker that I am, immediately started pestering him to quit. The thing is, he was 93 years old and smoked his entire life. And I being 16 at the time didnt relize how foolish I looked trying to tell him the dangers fo smoking! His view, he told me, was he was a old man, worked his entire life, raised his family and could do as he pleased in his retirement. And when he did die three years later, it from flu, not cancer.

  11. Lynnie says:

    @SolitaryAngel: Dude is 58 years old. Give him a break on how his face looks! 🙂 These aren’t the best photos I’ve ever seen of the man but otherwise, I think he’s hot! Not “Bruce Springsteen Old Guy Hot,” but still “Old Guy Hot.” Hee hee!

  12. Firestarter says:

    @TiaC- No one is saying that quitting anything is not a difficult and hard road, but it IS selfish of a man, who has already had health related issues to not quit smoking for his family, especially when his young children are alarmed by it.

    Mellancamp has the money and the best resources at his finger tips to use in order to quit smoking. Nothing of importance in life is ever easy, but if you give a damn about your children, then you do what you have to do in order to prolong your life for them.

    He enjoys smoking and has done it for YEARS, I get that, but at some point you have to think of others when you engage in self destructive/unhealthy behavior, and stop being selfish. He has the means and motive to kick the habit and his son should not have to ask 1 million people to join Facebook for the man to see that this is important to his child that he quits. He should also quit for himself, and care enough about himself to see that his continued addiction is not loving himself or his great talent that he was blessed with.

    Sorry for rant!

  13. Listerino says:

    Hmm as well as quitting smoking he might want to think about ditching that awful haircut he’s got going. I really hate it when older men try to have young guy hairstyles and it just looks sad.

  14. Allie says:

    Speck? The kid’s name is Speck? Yikes.

  15. snowball says:

    He was named after his grandfather, also named Speck, I believe.

  16. WTF?!? says:

    Mellencamp will quit when and if he’s ready to, a Facebook group won’t make him any more determined than his family members begging him to do so.

    The air of superiority from people who think all smokers should/can just quit is ridiculous. Tia C is absolutely correct.

    It is unfathomable that the gov’t can take a form of individual pleasure/choice, tax it into infinity and pay for everybody else’s services, then tell smokers they can’t perform this legal activity anywhere.

    If smoking is bad for Americans, OUTLAW IT and quit the bitching. Until then, go after the fast food restaurant patrons and Hummer owners and leave the smokers alone already.

  17. moo says:

    Quit that hair!

  18. Ben says:

    @ Eileen Over

    If you’re comparing a joint to a cigarette a joint is more hazardous to your health and contributes to lung cancer and other such condition more. However someone who smokes cigarettes smokes way more so over all cigarettes are a bit worse for your physical health.

    The argument for weed isn’t the damage it does to your physical health it’s the damage it does to you mental health. Mental health are a danger to people is society often, enough so that you don’t want to encourage things that cause it (and they are a lifetime drain on the medical system compared to a terminal illness)
    And the argument that weed comes from the ground so it’s better for you is bullshit too because some of the most deadly things to humans come from plants.

    Having said that the cold hard evidence against weed in it’s connection to mental illness is not clear enough to justify it being illegal IMO.

    Rant over

  19. WTF?!? says:

    Ben, you are so far off on EVERY SINGLE POINT there’s no use correcting you.

    Please do some research before spouting platitudes. You are wrong, wrong, wrong on all counts.

  20. GatsbyGal says:

    I’m the 117,208th member!

    I feel for Speck. He’s just a boy, just a kid, who’s probably very worried about his father. John’s no spring chicken and he’s not too healthy…who knows how much longer he’s got. But if he quits smoking, he’s pretty much guaranteed to have more time on this earth to spend with his family.

  21. Ben says:

    WTF?!? I am write. I don’t know what part you exactly don’t agree.

    Per weight marijuana does contain more carcinogens.Go and ask your local oncologist or gp if you don’t believe me. But as I said, one smokes more cigarettes than joints (do you disagree with this considering you said everything I say is wrong) cigarettes are cumitively worse. Also one doesn’t get addict to weed like cigarettes usually and people normally stop in adult years.

    As for the argument as to why weed is illegal, well that’s the case here in Australia I don’t know what it is in America and I forgot people would assume I’m talking about America.
    Does that satisfy you disgreement?

    A weeds connection to mental illness is true. However by people against weed it is overestimated, and people for weed it is underestimated. Abuse of Marijuana does deteriorate mental health though. Whether those people had underlining problems is debatable however that doesn’t change the fact that is exasperates the problem. I’ve seen many friends drift away from weed. And I only need to talk to my parents to hear a repeated pattern of patients coming in with mental illness made worse my marijuana.
    It is from abuse though, not casual usage.

    Still don’t think it should be illegal (is this what you disagree with?) and I still smoke occasionally.

    Seeing as you gave such a poor response I don’t quite understand what you disagree with. Although I just assume it’s a personal issue and not a factual one as you didn’t say anything of depth and what I say is the truth and a moderate position.

  22. WTF?!? says:

    Wrong, wrong, wrong, Ben.
    Terminally incorrect.