Frozen in the collective memory as poodle-haired pretend cowboys, Bon Jovi released their self-titled debut album in 1984.
Runaway was the band’s first single – though not John Bongiovi’s first single; he recorded a track called R2D2 We Wish You A Merry Christmas for the Star Wars Christmas Album before he formed Bon Jovi in 1983! – and their first top 40 hit in the US.
On the strength of their first hit single, Bon Jovi left on their first US tour, opening for The Scorpions. They toured non-stop for a year, before taking a brief break to record their second album 7800° Fahrenheit.
Following a philosophy of play live, play loud, play often, play anywhere, they went on to play over 2,000 shows in 47 countries to an estimated 31 million people.
In October 1986, their third album, Slippery When Wet, stayed at #1 in the US for eight weeks and became one of the biggest-selling US rock albums of the decade.
Recorded with Bruce Fairbairn in Vancouver, the album was packed with infectious sing-a-long pop-rock anthems like You Give Love A Bad Name (their first UK hit) and Livin’ On A Prayer – songs which crossed them over from a male-dominated metal audience to the pop girl crowd, miraculously without alienating either side.
They went back to Vancouver to record their fourth album, New Jersey. Helped by the massive hit singles Bad Medicine and Born To Be My Baby, it shot to the top of the charts on both sides of the Atlantic.
The band test-marketed the songs on the LP by playing demo versions to kids in a pizza parlour across the street from their studio to ensure their songs had gritty integrity.
By 1989, the band had crossed over from the rock magazines to the tabloid newspapers. No end of gossip appeared about Bon Jovi — Jon and girlfriend Dorothea’s arrest for trespassing at an ice rink in New Jersey in March, their wedding the following month – and in June, the big one: guitarist Richie Sambora going out with Cher!
In the Spring of 1990, with a 16-month, 237-date tour at an end, the band went their separate ways. Cowboy fan Jon was asked by his friend, actor Kiefer Sutherland, to make a cameo appearance in the movie Young Guns II and write something for the soundtrack.
His movie role wasn’t up to much (he was shot dead minutes after he appeared on screen) but the song he wrote and sang for the soundtrack (Blaze Of Glory) topped the charts, selling more than two million copies in the US alone and winning him a Golden Globe award, an American Music Award and an Oscar nomination as ‘Best Original Song In A Film.’
By the time Keep The Faith was released in 1992, the rock climate had changed. In the post-Nirvana world, Bon Jovi couldn’t be the happy, poppy stadium band it had been and retain its success.
In 2001, Jon Bon Jovi was awarded an Honorary Doctorate from New Jersey’s Monmouth University.
In 2013, 30 years after they formed, the band marked their anniversary with the release of a new album – What About Now – which brought together everything that honks to high heaven about latter-day Bon Jovi: the ingratiating yet forgettable soft-focus anthems that contain less beef than your average Findus product (Because I Can and the title track); the cloying ballads that couldn’t locate their own balls even with a satnav (Amen, Thick Of Thieves); and the over-earnest ‘socially conscious’ concept involving a soldier, a stripper and some other vaguely defined caricatures that positively scream “Take me seriously you fuckers! I know Barack Obama!!”
Jon Bon Jovi’s mother, Carol Sharkey, was one of the first Playboy bunnies.
“If you want to torture me, you’d tie me down and force me to watch our first five videos”
Jon Bon Jovi
Jon Bon Jovi (John Bongiovi)
Alec John Such