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Author Topic: R.O.C.K. in the USA? You better believe it! By Michele Berke  (Read 20400 times)
sharonc
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« on: February 24, 2011, 05:14:40 pm »

My name is Michele Berke, and I’m addicted to John Mellencamp.  There is no 12-step program for this, no treatment center, and quite frankly I don’t want to ever be cured of this addiction!

John and his music have been a part of my life for over 25 years now and no matter what direction he goes, I follow.  There are few artists whose career has lasted as long without sacrificing their creative expression and not “selling out” to the record company evil empires.  You may not like his political opinions, his “I don’t give a shit” attitude, hell even his smoking, but you cannot deny that this man puts on one of the best rock and roll shows each time he steps on the stage.

I was lucky to work at MTV in the 80’s (when they actually PLAYED music videos!) and heard about a special they were going to produce on John.  I spoke to everyone involved and due to budgetary reasons, they said I could work on it, but the network couldn’t pay for my travel.  Well that wasn’t going to hold me back so out came the personal credit card and in a few days this 22 year-old was off to Bloomington, Indiana and standing at the front steps of John’s former home & art studio.  Out walks John and we are properly introduced by Chris Connelly who was conducting the interview (and apparently knew John already).  I was very polite and shook his hand (when I really wanted to jump out of my skin!) and off we went.





He showed us some paintings, joked around a bit, smoked A LOT and took Chris back to the main house while we setup for the taping.  I stood in the background as the questions began, pinching myself every few minutes to make sure this was actually happening.  Once we finished, Chris came over to me and mentioned John asked who that “gal” was – referring to me – and when he heard I paid my way to work on this shoot, he offered to pickup my expenses (which he did)!  If THAT wasn’t awesome enough, I somehow found the courage to pull him aside and ask him in jest “so when do I get to be painted by you?”  His reply, “if you want to spend the night, I’ll paint you in the morning”…GULP!!!

I spent the night in the art studio, he in his house.  The next day I sat for John and he indeed painted my portrait (which he sent to me and currently hangs in my bedroom).   I can remember every detail as if it happened yesterday.  Absolutely an incredible experience.



Fast forward to 2011 at Radio City Music Hall in New York City.  I got front row seats (through the Mellencamp.com Pre Sale) and lo and behold, just when I think my Mellencamp history cannot get any better, John pulls me up on stage to sing the finale: “R.O.C.K. in the USA”!  Now I’m almost 45 years old but the same “please pinch me” feeling came over me.  I’m not one to be shy, so I just gave it my all and had the absolute best time singing and dancing with him and the band.  As he escorted me back to my seat, I whispered in his ear about our meeting almost 25 years ago, and while I don’t think it was as vivid in his mind as it was in mine, he sure seemed to share in the fondness of my memories.

Thank you, John, for all the music.  You make my heart smile each time I hear your songs, and I don’t want to “hold onto 16 as long as I can.” I, and the rest of your adoring fans, will take you at 60 any day as it truly gets no better than this.









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« Last Edit: February 24, 2011, 06:13:53 pm by sharonc » Logged
dusty947
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« Reply #1 on: February 24, 2011, 05:54:34 pm »

This story and the pictures gave me goosebumps.  I know you know how lucky you are.
My dream is just to meet him one time.  I have met the entire current band 3 times and the entire time in the meet & greet all I could think of .... these band members are major part of his life.  As much as Family... Wow....!  Thank you for sharing, I save some time every day to dream.  In fact, I heard Save Some Time to Dream on the radio in the local grocery store at noon today and it brought a tear to my eye. First of all, I was over joyed that is playing for the whole store to hear..... But also..... That song is an anthem to all Mankind.  Remember, he thought some of his ideas were silly, but look at him now.  He is just an amazing human being.  He touches my soul.

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RSOX49FAN
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« Reply #2 on: February 24, 2011, 08:00:48 pm »

WOW! I swallowed my heart and smiled like a kid in a candy store. You brought me back to my childhood when I would ride my bike down the country dirt road I lived on with my walkman on listening to my Hurts so Good tape and just DREAMING of that long beautiful hair of John Cougar. I envy you and I love that picture of you and he in the 80's. My heart melted when I saw that. You really are one lucky person to have had that awesome opportunity back then and then again at this point in your life. You should play the lottery. I loved MTV, I'd love to know what that was like, working there. Thanks for sharing your story. Did you at least get a kiss from him? Smiley     
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marianne123
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« Reply #3 on: February 24, 2011, 11:41:11 pm »

What a story.  I was sitting in the front row too and when you were dancing with John I was thinking you just seemed comfortable up there.  Now I know why.  It was like you got to dance with an old friend you hadn't seen in years.  The painting is beautiful. Wow.  I do believe that you are truly blessed.......twice!
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-Marianne
dolly23
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« Reply #4 on: February 25, 2011, 08:52:04 am »

What a great story, thanks so much for sharing your time with us.
From the balcony, I thought it was Colleen dancing with John.
What great experiences you have had.
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mitch1982
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« Reply #5 on: February 25, 2011, 11:54:00 am »

Michele, thanks for sharing your story with all of us Mellenheads!  It's a great one and the video clip of you singing (scratch that, belting) your heart out on stage brought the biggest smile to me.  (glad someone caught that moment for you)  As I said on this site a few days ago, John was truly amused and it showed!  Good job girl!!

Maybe it's the name, but I share a similar "meeting" story regarding John.  It was a bit further back than yours, 1982, but the details and events are forever etched in my memory.  I'm not lucky enough to have a portrait in my bedroom but the photos I have from that day (and my memories) are cherished ones.

When I saw him last year in concert at the stage front we exchanged knowing smiles and he even recanted the story, for the audience, of the t.v. show taping I had been part of.  Time can pass but memories don't.  (there are photos on this site from that day under the "photos section"  and labeled "SCTV".)

Enjoy your addiction,
a fellow Michele
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richm752
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« Reply #6 on: February 26, 2011, 12:17:02 am »

I rate this post 5 lobsters.
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RichM752rnEverything is cool as can be in a peaceful world.rnrnrnrnrn
veggievixen
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« Reply #7 on: April 12, 2011, 09:01:29 am »

Thanks all for the kind words and for taking the time to read my story...I even got recognized as the "dancing red head" from the Radio City Show on the streets of NYC  Smiley 

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Smalltownboy
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« Reply #8 on: April 26, 2011, 10:31:02 am »

Thanks for sharing your story, photos and video. 




Mike
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veggievixen
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« Reply #9 on: July 11, 2011, 09:21:05 am »

Woo Hoo!  Just got my tix to opening night for Ghost Brothers...your best bet is to call the box office directly at 404.733.5000, their website is really slow...

My Mellencamp journey continues!
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veggievixen
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« Reply #10 on: November 07, 2011, 02:31:40 pm »

Wow!  Another amazing Mellencamp show in Newark, NJ this past weekend...he just sang his butt off and I was lucky enough to be in the front row (thanks to mellencamp.com fan club seating!) and have him gimme a wink and a smile...love that man...
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