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Author Topic: Mellencamp pays tribute to a friend at Indiana Landmarks' opening  (Read 5664 times)
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« on: April 17, 2011, 11:46:52 pm »

Rocker John Mellencamp didn't stay long Saturday at the opening of the new Indiana Landmarks Center, the latest preservation project funded by his late friend Bill Cook.

But he was on hand long enough to perform two songs and say a few words in honor of Cook, who died Friday of congestive heart failure at 80.

"You start out doing something for one reason, you end up doing it for another," said Mellencamp, who had agreed, before Cook's death, to play for the building's opening party Saturday despite the fact that he was also scheduled to perform a concert in Canada that night.

The anticipated opening celebration for the building turned into a combination party and memorial to Cook, a fervent preservationist who contributed $10 million to restore the former Central Avenue United Methodist Church for Indiana Landmarks.

Dressed in a black suit and a white T-shirt and carrying an acoustic guitar, Mellencamp showed up for the event with his father, Richard. Both men said they had been close friends of Cook's for decades.

"Bill and I have been best friends for 20 years," said Richard Mellencamp, Seymour. "We've done a lot of fun things together, and this is a very sad day for me."

First, John performed his melancholy tune "Longest Days," which includes the lyrics "life is short even in its longest days."

Then, he noted, "I'm sure Bill would want me to send a positive message. I know he would not want me up here playing a bunch of sad songs," before finishing with "Save Some Time to Dream."

The musician's words about Cook's positive nature were part of a chorus Saturday.

Politicians, community leaders, executives and Wabash philanthropist Richard Ford, the recipient of this year's Cook Cup for his own preservation work, all noted the same characteristic.

Because of his heart trouble, doctors had predicted that Cook wouldn't live as long as he did, said Steve Ferguson, chairman of the Cook Group. Cook took pride in proving them wrong.

And he loved for people to say "wow" when they walked into any of his preservation projects, which include the West Baden Springs Hotel.

When former Indiana first lady Judy O'Bannon spoke, she made sure the audience of Historic Landmarks supporters and friends of Cook's did just that.

"Let's say it together," she suggested.

And, after she counted to three, nearly everyone in the room complied.

"Wow," they said in unison under the old building's domed ceiling and massive chandelier in the house that will likely be known as another house that Bill built.|head
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