John Mellencamp and Wife Split After 20 Years
John Mellencamp and Wife Split After 20 Years

Republic Records has signed rock veteran John Mellencamp to what they're calling a "lifetime" recording contract. The label announced the deal on Thursday, adding that Mellencamp will release his 22nd full-length album, titled "Plain Spoken," this fall.

"Not only has he served as an ambassador of social consciousness in America, but he has also provided the soundtrack of a generation," Republic co-founder and chief executive Monte Lipman said. "We’re thrilled to be working with John Mellencamp as part of this historic deal."

The exact terms of the deal were not disclosed. Republic is a division of Universal Music Group.

Little Ditties

HURTS SO GOOD

PAPER IN FIRE

SMALL TOWN

JACK & DIANE

"Plain Spoken" will be the 62-year-old Mellencamp's first new album since 2010's "No Better Than This," released by Rounder Records. He has also recorded for Hear Music, Universal Republic, Columbia, Mercury and Riva.

Mellencamp has placed 20 albums on the Billboard 200 since 1979, back when he was known as John Cougar. Ten of those sets have reached the top 10, with 1982's "American Fool" marking his sole No. 1, where it reigned for nine weeks. On the Billboard Hot 100 songs chart, Mellencamp also boasts 10 top 10s, including one No. 1: "Jack & Diane," from "American Fool," spent four weeks on top. 

Other hits include "Hurts So Good," "Crumbling Down," "Pink Houses," "Small Town," "Paper in Fire" and "Wild Night."

Mellencamp's last three albums have reached the Billboard 200's top 10: "Freedom's Road" (2007), "Life Death Love and Freedom" (2008) and "No Better Than This" (2010). Until that run, he hadn't tallied three straight top 10s since 1985-89.

He has sold 27.5 million albums, according to the Recording Industry Association of America. Since SoundScan started tracking sales in 1991, Mellencamp has moved 13 million albums.

Additional reporting by Gary Trust