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Sunday Old School: Bon Jovi

Discuss New Jersey rock and roll and many think Bruce Springsteen; however, Bon Jovi has built quite a reputation themselves. With over 130 million albums sold, the boys from Sayreville, NJ continue to change up their sound and are making a run at "the boss" for notoriety in the Garden State.

The original band has been together since their first studio album (one exception being a change at bass in '94). The initial line-up was led by lead singer Jon Bon Jovi (who shortened his name from John Francis Bongiovi, Jr.), guitarist Richie Sambora, bassist Alec John Such, keyboardist David Bryan, and drummer Tico Torres. The initial thought when looking at this band was not that they had a lot of hair, but that they were also very pretty and smiling at the camera -- unlike the scowls of David Lee Roth, Nikki Sixx, and Stephen Pearcy, Jon Bon Jovi and Richie Sambora were just a couple of guys with a hardhat mentality and hair most women would kill for. Was it just me or did David Bryan actually have better hair than Jon? Just me... okay. Anyway it is quite preposterous to think that the keyboardist would have better hair than the lead singer. Moving on...

The first album, their self titled debut from 1984, featured a single titled "Runaway" that displayed Jon Bon Jovi wearing either leggings or bandanas around his ankles. This video was also the beginning of the rise of Jon Bon Jovi's hair, something that would peak during the second course of "Livin' On A Prayer." In 1985 they put out their second album, "7800 Fahrenheit," an album with "In and Out of Love," a song showing arena anthem potential complete with a live video showing the world how much fun you can have at a Bon Jovi concert. The first album showed potential and gave hope of the band becoming a hit, but the second album didn't blow up, instead steadily building on the first album, if nothing else, an example of a band working hard to create music and tour to support. This hardest working band mantra would last from their start through present day. Of course, they would get a break, which changed everything in 1986.

In 1986 glam rock was at a pop culture high. There was not a better time to release Bon Jovi's third album, "Slippery When Wet." The first single, "You Give Love A Bad Name," went to #1 on the Billboard charts. Now when I watch the video, Jon Bon Jovi throwing his guitar into the audience reminds me of Huey Lewis in the karaoke movie Duets: "I can't go back, I'm a singer now!" It was the moment where you could feel that this was the start of something special for the band (and lead singer). The next single, "Livin' On A Prayer," also went to #1. The video focused on Jon Bon Jovi's ass and the fun loving band (many "blooper" shots are shown). It always appeared there was a jeans rivalry between Jon and Def Leppard lead singer Joe Elliot (Elliot preferring more holes versus the faded wash worn by Jon). As was the format, they had to follow up their "rocking" hits with a ballad. They released "Wanted Dead Or Alive," a top 10 hit that still holds up better than most ballads during this period. One question on the video: Do I understand correctly that according to Jon Bon Jovi it's really exhausting to travel by private jets and limos? The collection of these three videos increased acid washed denim by 40 percent (this is an approximate estimation based on the number of video ass shots).

After a huge album and headlining tour the band went back to the studio to try and do the impossible: follow up "Slippery When Wet." What came out was the album "New Jersey," another huge record that catapulted the band to the top of the eighties glam scene. In 1988, with "Slippery When Wet" and "New Jersey," Bon Jovi was as big as any other band. They toured for two years straight and then decided to take some much needed time off.

During the hiatus, Jon Bon Jovi recorded a solo album, a soundtrack for the movie Young Guns II. The title track. "Blaze Of Glory." hit #1 in the U.S. and won an American Music Award and a Golden Globe as well. Meanwhile Richie Sambora released a solo album titled "Stranger In This Town." After some much needed rest the band had a company meeting, so to speak, in the Caribbean -- not exactly a conference room type meeting. It was here they vented and decided to get back into the studio and make another album. In 1992 Bon Jovi released "Keep The Faith." This was also the time Jon Bon Jovi made national (CNN) headlines by cutting his hair.

In 1994 Hugh McDonald replaced Alec John Such on bass and in 1995 the band released their sixth studio album, "These Days." Despite the grunge era being in full effect, Bon Jovi continued to make major sales and critically was being hailed as a band that continues to improve both through their music and lyrics. After all of the success the band took a two year break. During this time Jon did some acting in movies to prepare him for his role of a lifetime in Ally McBeal, which is better if we all just pretend never actually happened. In 1999 the band reunited and created their next album, "Crush," released in 2000. The song "It's My Life" was the first single and was one of their biggest hits since their "Slippery"/"Jersey" days.

After September 11th the band played several benefit concerts and began work on the album "Bounce." Released in 2002, their 8th studio album was a statement for New York and the United States and their ability to rebound after the attacks. In 2005 the band put out their next album, "Have A Nice Day," featuring a song "Who Says You Can't Go Home," which definitely had somewhat of a country feel to it. Critically this album was another success and the band continued to build on this by creating "Lost Highway," a "full country" album in 2007. In 2009 the band returned to their rock roots with their eleventh studio album, "The Circle." In addition to their studio albums the band also keeps the holiday spirit, contributing to "A VERY SPECIAL CHRISTMAS" albums, with proceeds going to the special Olympics.

Late December brought news of the death of Jon Bon Jovi. As we now know this was just a hoax and the singer is doing just fine. Did this latest death hoax break the Twitter record for most #wanteddeadoralive hash tag keywords? I think it's safe to assume so. Bon Jovi is a band that has always found a way to stay on top. Not only do they tour their greatest hits, but continue to make new music that is in high demand. From the initial focus of Jon's hair and ass to present day when it's the music everyone if focused on, it continues to be quite a ride for this band. When not touring, the band is involved in many charities that focus on the homeless and poverty in the New Jersey and Pennsylvania areas. Whether watching a ball game or a tourism blurb on New Jersey there is a very good chance you will hear a clip from a Bon Jovi song. Let "the boss" stress about keeping his Garden State stature, the boys from Bon Jovi are going to just keep smiling.






Rockstar_Scribbler's avatar

David S. Grant (aka Rockstar_Scribbler) is the author of several books including Rock Stars, Happy Hour, and Corporate Porn. For more information please go to www.rockstarbooks.net or www.davidsgrant.com. You can also follow David on Twitter @david_S_grant.

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1 Comment on "Sunday Old School: Bon Jovi"

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Diamond Oz's avatar

Senior News Correspondent

1. Diamond Oz writes:

A nine minute long rendition of Bad Medicine? I'll give it a miss if you don't mind, Jon?

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