People Magazine: John Mellencamp Says He Hasn't Had 'Girls' Backstage Since Ex Elaine Irwin Booted Them in 1991

People Magazine By Rachel DeSantis

John Mellencamp may be a rock and roll star, but you wouldn't know it from hanging out backstage at one of his concerts.

The "Jack & Diane" singer tells People in this week's issue that "girls" and "hangers-on" got the backstage boot in 1991 thanks to then-wife Elaine Irwin, who wanted to make things on the road more family-friendly for the rocker's five kids.

"Elaine came out on tour with me [early on] and looked at what was going on. She goes, 'This is not going to go on anymore. No more [random] people backstage.' I said to her, 'Why? I thought we were having fun,'" he recalls. "And she goes, 'Yeah, if you're 15. But you're not 15 anymore. You're married to me, so there's nobody backstage.' I said, 'You go tell the band,' and she did. There's not been anybody — no girls or hangers-on — backstage at my shows since then. Her advice was good."

Mellencamp, 70, split from the supermodel in 2010 after 18 years of marriage, and they share sons Hud, 27, and Speck, 26. He's also dad to Michelle, 51, with ex-wife Priscilla Esterline, and daughters Teddi, 40, and Justice, 36, with ex-wife Victoria Granucci.

As they grew up, the musician says he made sure to keep his kids nearby, bringing them on tour with him and setting them up in hotel conference rooms so they could be homeschooled on the road.

"My parenting skills were …," he pauses. "I'm not crazy, I'm colorful," he says.

He explains, "When you've been in a rock band since you were 12, you become colorful. When the kids were little, I'd say, 'What are you guys going to do today?' They'd say, 'We're going to school,' and I'd go, 'No. You did that yesterday. Why are you going to school? What are you going to learn today that you don't already know?' I was teasing, of course."

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Infusing everyday life with humor is still something Mellencamp takes care to do, stressing the fact that you "can't take yourself too seriously."

"I try to make sure that my kids understand how fortunate they are and that they shouldn't take any of this for granted," he says.

The rocker is currently gearing up for the release of his latest album, Strictly a One-Eyed Jack, which will hit shelves on Jan.