John Mellencamp Says He Left His Old Label Because Its President Was Racist

John Mellencamp paid a visit to Howard Stern’s SiriusXM radio show earlier this morning, and he shared for the first-time his account of why he left Columbia all the way back in 2001. In Mellencamp’s words:

I was on Columbia Records and I made a record called ‘Peaceful World.” And it was climbing up the charts, it was right before 9/11. And my manager went in and was talking to the record company, and the president of the record company — who I won’t mention his name but you could probably figure it out — said, ‘I don’t know why Mellencamp insists on having these [n-words] singing with him. It makes it impossible to get him [on radio].

That president is likely Don Ienner, who previously faced a lawsuit for allegedly using a homophobic slur in reference to George Michael. Furthermore, according to Mellencamp, former Columbia Records Senior VP/Marketing & Media Larry Jenkins lost his job for telling the president in that meeting that it was inappropriate for him to use such racist rhetoric. Mellencamp went on to explain that his third full-length for Columbia, the 2003 cover album Trouble No More, was released to finish his deal with the record label. You can revisit “Peaceful World” below.

John Mellencamp’s upcoming 23rd studio album Sad Clowns & Hillbillies is out 4/28 via Republic.