Bon Jovi (1983-present): a Glam Metal band from Sayreville, New Jersey, USA.
ften considered glam metal, the group known as Bon Jovi was founded in Sayreville, New Jersey, USA and fronted by Jon Bon Jovi (Real Name: John Francis Bongiovi Jr.; born March 2, 1962; vocals). He met one of his partners, David Rashbaum (Real Name: David Bryan; born February 7, 1962; keyboards), in high school and shared a common interest in music. They then joined eight other musicians in an R&B cover band called Atlantic Expressway. After high school, Rashbaum went to New York to study at the Julliard School For Music; Bongiovi followed and bluffed his way into the Power Station Studios where he did menial jobs for two years before Billy Squier agreed to record his demo. This one track got onto the local radio and a compilation album. This is when the services of other musicians joined him: Alec John Such (bass), Tico Torres (drums) and most notably Richie Sambora (guitar), who by this time had already been working in the popular spotlight and was an accomplished session musician. In July of 1983 they landed a recording contract with 'Polygram' and support slots to Eddie Money and ZZ-Top. Bon Jovi's looks brought as much attention to the band as much as the music. Hollywood even courted him for a lead role in the movie Footloose, which he subsequently turned down. Indeed, throughout his career with the band Bon Jovi he operated his own side deals under his full name Jon Bon Jovi.
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After the debut record, the self-titled Bon Jovi (1984), they landed support slots with Whitesnake, Kiss and Scorpions serving him a hefty dose of heavy metal fans. The next release, 7800 Fahrenheit (1985), however, was greeted with cynicism in the media who were catching on to their slick looks and pop Metal sound and production. Regardless of the critics, the album sold respectfully. The follow-up, Slippery When Wet (1986), ended off being the biggest selling rock album of 1986/87 and got them a spot on the Monsters Of rock Tour. It was clear to the public, and it appears a huge surprise to the critics, that Bon Jovi was not just another hair act of the time but actually possessed talent. The album was heavy metal for people who didn't admit they liked heavy metal with its more 'popish', more approachable sound featuring tracks like Livin' On A Prayer and You Give Love A Bad Name.
Bon Jovi's cowboy fantasies came to life on Wanted Dead Or Alive. Desmond Child's soft-rock song-smithing with the hooky hard rocking riffs of Jovi and friends sent the album selling millions, and going to #1 in the US and top 10 in the UK and each track spun off as a single did exactly the same. The next record, New Jersey (1988), gave only a hint of his soon coming solo career. It followed a more Springsteen-ish programming with more rock and less Metal while still keeping the approachable sounds with catchy riffs.
In 1990, Jon Bon Jovi recorded a soundtrack, and received an acting role in the movie Young Guns II, more commonly known as Blaze of Glory. Having been originally approached by his friend Emilio Estevez to lend "Wanted Dead Or Alive" as the theme song for his upcoming Billy the Kid sequel, Jon Bon Jovi ended up composing an all-new theme song for the film's soundtrack and delivering his first solo album. The album featured high profile guests such as Elton John, Little Richard and Jeff Beck. The title track, Blaze of Glory peaked at 1 one on the Billboard Hot 100. In 1991, Blaze of Glory won an award for 'Favorite pop/rock Single' at the American Music Awards and was also awarded a Golden Globe. The song also earned Jon Bon Jovi an Academy Award nomination and a Grammy Award nomination.
In 1991, Jon Bon Jovi started his own label, 'Jambco Records', and produced Aldo Nova's album Blood on the Bricks and Billy Falcon's album Pretty Blue World. Disillusioned with the music business, despite all his success, and unhappy with the status quo, in the summer of 1991 he set off on a two-week cross-country motorcycle trip that would significantly affect his creative juices. When he returned in September 1991, he initiated a bunch of changes, starting with the dismissal of the band's long time manager Doc McGhee. It didn't stop there for he also fired several business advisers and agents and created 'Bon Jovi Management'.
In 1992 he was back in full form and after a marriage to karate champion Dorothea Hurley, he was back, this time with a new record, a stripped down sound and new look on Keep The Faith (1992). Although the songs were intact enough, many of the times it was a simple matter of self-parody, as if the attention was elsewhere and the album's charting reflected that. The Always single, and the compilation Crossroads - The Best Of Bon Jovi came next and kept the band in the UK #1 during 1994, with These Days following in 1995 doing equally as well. Soon after, various members explored solo projects, the most noted being Richie Sambora and Bon Jovi himself once-again using variations of his name (Jon Bon Jovi and just plain Bon Jovi).
He would annex the line-up David Bryan (keyboards), Kenny Arnoff (drums), Eric Bazilian + Dave Stuart to release Destination Anywhere (1997) and Crush (2000). One Wild Night (2001) served as a kind of anthology of their more than 20 years of history.
Since then, Bounce (2002), Have a Nice Day (2005), Lost Highway (2007), The Circle (2009) and What About Now (2013) round out the discography.
In 2012, Jon Bon Jovi recorded a soundtrack to the movie Stand Up Guys more commonly known as Not Running Anymore. On December 13, 2012, it was announced that "Not Running Anymore" would be nominated for a Golden Globe Award. In 2014 Bon Jovi, along with a consortium or Toronto based corporations (Rogers Communications and Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment) placed a bid to buy the Buffalo Bills (American Football) team that was coming for sale and move the franchise to Toronto, Canada - the first NFL team to leave the USA. At time of publishing it is unknown if their bid (competing with the likes of Donald Trump) will succeed.
In November 2016, 'Island Records' and 'Universal Music Enterprises' released Bon Jovi's studio albums in remastered versions on vinyl, spanning their 32-year career, starting with Bon Jovi (1984) until What About Now (2013). On February 10, 2017, a 25-LP box set titled Bon Jovi: The Albums was released. It consists of the band's 13 studio albums, the compilation Burning Bridges (2015), the two Jon Bon Jovi solo albums (Blaze of Glory (1990) and Destination Anywhere (1997)), and an exclusive Extras album featuring "international rarities".
Bon Jovi was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2018.
2020 would see the release of Bon Jovi: 2020 (2020).
Now relegated to coffee table chatter, Bon Jovi has kept a career for himself both in music and movies with the same slick, clean image even though his appeal to heavy metal fans passed long ago.
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Jon Bon Jovi at the 2009 Tribeca Film Festival for the premiere of When We Were Beautiful.
Photo by: David Shankbone.
CC BY 3.0
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