FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Rockstar NFL Owner Jim Irsay and All-Star Band Kickoff Colts' Season with John Mellencamp, John Hiatt, Ann Wilson and Buddy Guy

The Jim Irsay Collection
Photos Courtesy Matt Bowen / Indianapolis Colts; Ann Wilson Photos Courtesy Ben Bentley

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (September 13, 2022) — The Jim Irsay Band came home Friday night to kickoff the Indianapolis Colts 2022 season and showcase TheJim Irsay Collection along with special guest performers John Mellencamp, Ann Wilson, Buddy Guy and John Hiatt. Showcasing historic and iconic artifacts from American history, pop culture, rock music and debuting many Colts artifacts, it was an unforgettable night spent supporting the community and celebrating the kickoff to the NFL season with more than 25,000 fans on hand.

The Colts Owner & CEO and an active philanthropist, Irsay also announced donations to two Indianapolis hospitals – $500,000 to the Peyton Manning Children's Hospital and $500,000 to Riley Hospital for Children – with patients and families representing both present on stage. The Colts Cheerleaders kicked off the evening's festivities with a routine followed by an introduction of Colts players past and present including DeForest Buckner, Shaquille Leonard, Matt Ryan, Jonathan Taylor, Reggie Wayne and Pro Football Hall of Famer Edgerrin James.

Led by Irsay on vocals, the All-Star band included Kenny Aronoff on drums (Sir Paul McCartney, Mellencamp, The Rolling Stones, Sting, Bob Dylan, Willie Nelson), Tom Bukovac on guitar (played on over 700 albums with major artists), Mike Mills on bass and vocals (founding member of R.E.M.), Danny Nucci on guitar and saxophone (actor from Titanic, The Rock), Carmella Ramsey on violin, mandolin and vocals (Reba McEntire, John Hiatt, Olivia Newton-John), Michael Ramos on keyboards (Mellencamp, Los Lonely Boys, Patti Griffin, Paul Simon), Kenny Wayne Shepherd on guitar and vocals (five-time GRAMMY® nominated), Mike Wanchic on guitar (John Mellencamp). A highlight of the night was Shepard's performance of Pink Floyd's "Comfortably Numb" playing David Gilmour's 'The Black Strat'; a Fender Stratocaster and one of the most iconic guitars in rock n' roll history.

“At the end of the day, last Friday night’s concert and exhibit was about bringing our fans together and treating them to a night of celebration – a celebration of football, music and our Indianapolis community,” Irsay said.  “I don’t own any of these items. I’m just the steward of this collection, and it’s my dream for as many people as possible to experience and become inspired by this history.”

Outside of music, the collection includes such historic items as:

  • An 1823 William J. Stone printing of the Declaration of Independence, one of the first exact “facsimiles” of the final signed document;
  • Renowned American author Jack Kerouac’s original 119-foot On the Road scroll;
  • The original manuscript for Alcoholics Anonymous’ Big Book, the organization’s founding document;
  • The original 1777 Continental Congress proclamation designating Thanksgiving as a national holiday;
  • Handwritten documents and artifacts from women’s suffrage pioneer Susan B. Anthony;
  • A Jackie Robinson game-used bat from 1953 (the founding year of the Colts);
  • Muhammad Ali’s 1965 first walkout robe that bore his new name, and his boxing shoes from the 1975 “Thrilla’ in Manilla” vs. Joe Frazier;
  • Artifacts and signed documents from numerous U.S. Presidents, including George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt, Franklin D. Roosevelt, John F. Kennedy and others.

Items have been displayed at the U.S.’s Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, The Metropolitan Museum of Art (The Met), The Lincoln Memorial, the world-famous Beverly Hills Hotel, and the Indiana State Museum; as well as at The Centre Pompidou (Paris), the British Library (London), Auditorium Parco della Musica (Rome) and other locations around the world. For general info, visit jimirsaycollection.com.

About John Mellencamp

Born October 7, 1951 in Seymour, Indiana, John Mellencamp is one of the most iconic musicians of all time. His professional music career began in earnest in 1976 when MCA Records released his first album, The Chestnut Street Incident. After releasing a few albums, he broke out in 1979 with his first hit, "I Need A Lover" In 1982 his fifth album American Fool was the year's best-selling album on the strength of two huge hits, "Hurts So Good," and the number 1 single "Jack & Diane," The albums that followed in the 80's, Uh-Huh, Scarecrow, Lonesome Jubilee, and Big Daddy, were released under the name John Cougar Mellencamp. Mellencamp took the music on the road with a band that many considered the best in the business, playing approximately 1,000 shows around the globe during the decade. In 1985, John's concern for the plight of the American farmer, which had been voiced in the Scarecrow album, brought him together with Willie Nelson and Neil Young in launching Farm Aid. It became an annual event and has helped make people aware of the issues farmers face and how they affect on the entire nation.  Mellencamp was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2008 and is a member of the Songwriters Hall of Fame. He’s a Grammy-winner and the recipient of numerous awards including The Woody Guthrie and John Steinbeck Awards, ASCAP Foundation’s Champion Award and their highest honor the Founders Award, the Americana Music Association’s Lifetime Achievement Award for Songwriting and the Billboard Century Award, amongst a host of other honors. John Mellencamp continues to live and work in Bloomington, Indiana. He is the father of three daughters, Michelle, Teddi Jo and Justice and two sons, Hud and Speck.

About John Hiatt

Indianapolis native, John Hiatt is one of America’s most respected and influential singer-songwriters. “You know how writing goes for me," John Hiatt says, offering a glimpse into his creative process. “I get a couple of lines going, and then I just tag along as the songs start to reveal themselves. You’ve just gotta jump inside and take the ride.” Hiatt has been on that ride – as have we all, tagging along right beside him – for more than four decades now. In fact, since the release of his 1974 debut, Hangin’ Around the Observatory, rarely has more than a year or two passed without a new Hiatt collection hitting the shelves. In total, John has released 26 critically embraced solo albums as well as an album with the legendary group Little Village with Ry Cooder, Nick Lowe and Jim Keltner. His most recent studio album, Leftover Feelings, is a collaboration with Dobro Master Jerry Douglas that was recorded at the historical RCA Studio B in Nashville. As a credit to John’s songwriting career, over 400 of his songs have been recorded by artists ranging from Bonnie Raitt to Eric Clapton and BB King to Bob Dylan and Iggy Pop. Since 2000 he’s been on a remarkable late-career run, releasing a dozen acclaimed studio albums and embarking on numerous tours in the U.S. and abroad. John’s esteemed career has earned him 10 GRAMMY award nominations, his own star on Nashville’s Walk of Fame, the 2019 BMI Troubadour award, the Americana Music Association’s 2008 Lifetime Achievement Award for Songwriting, has been inducted into the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame, and he was saluted at the Indiana Governor’s Arts Awards.

About Ann Wilson

Widely regarded as one of the greatest voices in the history of rock ‘n’ roll, Ann Wilson is a true icon, known far and wide as lead singer and songwriter of the groundbreaking rock band, Heart. Led by Wilson’s extraordinary vocal power, Heart has thrilled audiences for over four decades, earning sales of more than 35 million and a well-deserved induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2013. Indeed, as lead singer of the first female-fronted superstar hard rock band, Wilson blazed a trail for generations of women to come, while her songs – including “Barracuda,” “Crazy On You,” “Straight On,” and “Magic Man,” to name but a few – have become part of the very fabric of popular culture. FIERCE BLISS was released in April of 2022 and is classic rock comfort food of the finest ingredients, carrying a richness and light that allows you to escape into timeless nostalgia. 11 perfectly weighted and selected songs ranging from Wilson’s own co-penned originals to breathtaking covers and collaborations. “A Moment in Heaven” could easily apply to anyone who has seen their career suddenly bathed in a bright beam of glory before the spotlight is abruptly moved elsewhere. There is a deeply spiritual air about Ann Wilson 2022, and both “Black Wing” and “Angel’s Blues” (with guitars and production by Gov’t Mule’s Warren Haynes) show different facets of that soul and ethos. Furthermore, Wilson brings new life and verve to classic songs, such as Queen’s “Love of My Life” (as a duet with Vince Gill) and Robin Trower’s “Bridge of Sighs” and Eurythmics’ “Missionary Man” (both with guitars courtesy of Kenny Wayne Shepherd), and has helped fashion definitive versions of each which stand toe-to-toe with the originals. www.annwilson.com

About Buddy Guy

At age 86, Buddy Guy is a Rock & Roll Hall of Fame inductee, a major influence on rock titans like Jimi Hendrix, Eric Clapton, and Stevie Ray Vaughan, a pioneer of Chicago’s fabled West Side sound, and a living link to the city’s halcyon days of electric blues. Buddy Guy has received 8 GRAMMY Awards, a 2015 Lifetime Achievement GRAMMY Award, 38 Blues Music Awards (the most any artist has received), the Billboard Magazine Century Award for distinguished artistic achievement, a Kennedy Center Honor, and the Presidential National Medal of Arts. Rolling Stone Magazine ranked him #23 in its "100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time." In 2019, Buddy Guy won his 8th and most recent GRAMMY Award for his 18th solo LP, “The Blues Is Alive And Well”. In July of 2021, in honor of Buddy Guy’s 85th birthday, PBS American Masters released “Buddy Guy: The Blues Chase The Blues Away”, a new documentary following his rise from a childhood spent picking cotton in Louisiana to becoming one of the most influential guitar players of all time. The documentary features new interviews with Buddy Guy, Carlos Santana, Eric Clapton, John Mayer, Gary Clark Jr, and more. Watch the full documentary at PBS Online here. Though Buddy Guy will forever be associated with Chicago, his story actually begins in Louisiana. One of five children, he was born in 1936 to a sharecropper’s family and raised on a plantation near the small town of Lettsworth, located some 140 miles northwest of New Orleans. Buddy was just seven years old when he fashioned his first makeshift “guitar”—a two-string contraption attached to a piece of wood and secured with his mother’s hairpins. In 1957, he took his guitar to Chicago, where he would permanently alter the direction of the instrument, first on numerous sessions for Chess Records playing alongside Howlin’ Wolf, Muddy Waters, and the rest of the label’s legendary roster, and then on recordings of his own. His incendiary style left its mark on guitarists from Jimmy Page to John Mayer. “He was for me what Elvis was probably like for other people,” said Eric Clapton at Guy’s Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction in 2005. “My course was set, and he was my pilot.” Seven years later, July 2012 proved to be one of Buddy Guy’s most remarkable years ever. He was awarded the 2012 Kennedy Center Honor for his lifetime contribution to American culture; earlier in the year, at a performance at the White House, he even persuaded President Obama to join him on a chorus of “Sweet Home Chicago.” Also in 2012, he published his long-awaited memoir, When I Left Home. He is set to release a new album, The Blues Don't Lie, in the coming months, with two singles already available; “We Go Back” featuring Mavis Staples and “Gunsmoke Blues” featuring Jason Isbell. These many years later, Buddy Guy remains a genuine American treasure and one of the final surviving connections to an historic era in the country’s musical evolution.

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PHOTO GALLERY HERE Photos Courtesy Matt Bowen / Indianapolis Colts; Ann Wilson Photos Courtesy Ben Bentley

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