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Bon Jovi

Bon Jovi

Rock group

For the Record

Runaway Kicked off Career

Slippery Breakthrough

New Maturity

Continued Success

Selected discography

Sources

Bon Jovi was responsible for the most organic-sounding technopop-metal hybrids of the 80s, wrote Spins Chuck Eddy in 1993 of the megapopular five-member band named after its lead singer, Jon Bon Jovi. Credited as one of the creators of metal lite or pop metalheavy metal rock softened by top 40 lyricsthe band rose to prominence with the help of millions of MTV-watching teenage listeners during a decade dominated by pop giants Madonna and Michael Jackson. Eddy characterized Bon Jovis sound as dirty-white-boy guitars, a pinch of rockabilly twang, and maybe a couple of classically orchestrated disco strings in his critique of the bands chartbusting 1986 album Slippery When Wet. Indeed, the New Jersey rockers who are the states second-most-famous musical export (after working-class hero Bruce Springsteen), have not only survived but thrived in an ever-changing, intensely competitive industry. Thanks to their music skills, carefully polished image, loyalty to fans, and collective good looks, Bon Jovi has sold more than 90 million records globally. We just want kids to have fun, nothing moreand nothing less, [Jon Bon Jovi] stated in a 1986 interview in Rolling Stone.We arent U2, we arent gonna change the

For the Record

Members include Jon Bon Jovi (born John Bon-giovi on March 2, 1962, in Sayreville, NJ; son of John [a hairdresser] and Carol [owner of a gift shop] Bongiovi; married Dorothea Hurley, 1989; two children), vocals, guitar; David Bryan (born David Bryan Rashbaum, c. 1962, in Edison, NJ; married April McLean, 1990; three children), keyboards; Hugh McDonald (replaced Alec John Such), bass; Richie Sambora (born c. 1959 in Woodbridge, NJ; replaced Dave Sabo, c. 1983; married Heather Locklear, 1994; one daughter), guitar; Alec John Such (born c. 1952 in Perth Amboy, NJ; left group, 1994), bass; Hector lïco Torres (born c. 1954 in Colonia, NJ; married Eva Herzigova, 1996; divorced, 1998), drums.

Band formed as the Wild Ones in New Jersey, c. 1982; signed by Poly Gram Records; released self-titled debut album, 1984; toured former U.S.S.R., c. 1988; Jon Bon Jovi founded Jambco Records, 1991; released Keeping the Faith, 1992; released greatest hits collection, Cross Road, 1994; released These Days, 1995; released Crush, 2000.

Addresses: Record company Island Def Jam, 825 8th Avenue 24th Floor, New York, NY 10019, website: http://www.islandrecords.com. Website Bon Jovi Official Website: http://www.bonjovi.com.

world. Were a rock band, and thats all were supposed to be.

Born on March 2, 1962, in Sayreville, New Jersey, Jon Bon Jovi is the oldest son of Italian-Americans John and Carol Bongiovi. John Sr., a hairdresser, was notorious for closely cropping his three young sons hair. Mrs. Bongiovi, a gift-shop owner and former Playboy bunny, planted the seed of her sons love of music when she brought home a guitar for seven-year-old Jon. I was very much the average American kid, he told Jill Selsman in Interview. I wanted to be an astronaut, a cop, or a baseball player. I remember my first experience with a guitar very well. I flung it down the steps and heard it going oing, oing, oing. I remember hearing that and thinking, thats pretty cool. It took another seven years for me to want to get into it, though.

As a teenager Jon was influenced by the music of folk rocker Bob Dylan, Irish mystic-soulman Van Morrison, and fellow New-Jerseyites Springsteen and South Side Johnny and the Asbury Jukes. He played in several bands, including the Atlantic City Expressway (his first), the Rest, and the Raze. A highlight of his early career came when Springsteen joined the Atlantic City Expressway onstage for an impromptu jam session in an Asbury Park nightclub, a near religious experience for Jon.

Following high school graduation, the already ambitious singer and musician was ready to leave Sayreville, an industrial town he considered a dead end. Jons cousin, Tony Bongiovi, part-owner of the Power Station, a well-known New York City recording studio, gave him a job sweeping floors. The perks of the position included rubbing elbows with Rolling Stone Mick Jagger and pop star David Bowie and recording demo tapes with professional back-up bands during non-peak hours. During this period, Jon attempted to interest record companies in his music, with little success.

Runaway Kicked off Career

In 1982 one of Jons demo songs, Runaway, became a surprise hit following local radio airplay of a compilation album featuring amateur groups. Soon thereafter, the budding rock star was signed by Mercury Records, a division of PolyGram, and suddenly found himself in need of a permanent band. He assembled some of his early Jersey Shore matesTico Torres, Dave Bryan, Alec John Such, and Dave Sabo, who was eventually replaced by Richie Samboraas The Wild Ones and watched Mercury turn Runaway into a national hit. Properly marketing the band, which had since become simply Bongiovi, was critical to Mercury executives, who insisted on a spelling change to minimize what they apparently deemed the too-Italian character of Jon Bon Jovis surname. Thus was born the phoneticized Bon Jovi; the singer took this opportunity to change his name as well. Though the band would develop a strong group identity, Mercury did not offer Torres, Bryan, Such, and Sambora a contract, effectively making them Jons employees.

In 1984 the group released its first album, Bon Jovi, and began touring as the opening act for established acts such as .38 Special, Ted Nugent, Eddie Money, Judas Priest, and ZZ Top. As his ensemble began to enjoy coast-to-coast attention, Jon Bon Jovi landed in the middle of lawsuit brought by his cousin Tony, who claimed to have advanced Jons career and now wanted payment for his efforts. The suit was settled out of court, with Tony Bongiovi winning a producers credit, cash award, and royalties on the groups first releaseas well as a one percent royalty on the next two albums. This infuriated Jon, who considered Tonys influence minimal at best. Despite the legal wrangling, the first album sold well and laid the groundwork for the bands basic sound: a big beat with catchy lyrics.

Bon Jovi was quickly followed in 1985 by 7800 Fahrenheitthe melting point of rockwhich achieved platinum sales in 1987. Though critics were generally unimpressed with the band and considered them more fluff than stuff, the teenage crowd couldnt get enough of them. The whole younger rock movement was in dire need of someone to come along and be a superstar, national radio programmer Fred Jacobs explained to the Detroit Free Press, elaborating, The pop ranks have had so many people in the past few years but the young rockers really havent had anybody to get them into the arenas and throw their fists in the air and get nuts about.

Slippery Breakthrough

In 1986, Slippery When Wet, Bon Jovis third and best-selling album to date was released to largely positive reviews. Audiences savored the combination of heavy metal guitar crunch and upbeat lyrics. With singles like You Give Love a Bad Name, Living on a Prayer, and Wanted Dead or Alive, the band had reached a new plateau of success. This was due, in part, to the increasing prominence of music videos, which allowed for superior marketing of the videogenic quintet. Nobody knew what Bon Jovi was, guitarist Richie Sambora later told the Detroit Free Press.It couldve been a spaghetti or a jeans company for all they knew. We said, No actors, no actresses, no concept. Were going for simplicity. Just come and film us live, at a show. All of a sudden, Bon Jovi became Bon Jovi. It was clearly defined. Whats Bon Jovi? Its a rock n roll band.

Sambora also attributed the albums success to the groups ability to fill a niche in the music business. There was a need by the people for a Bon Jovi, he said in a 1989 Rolling Stone interview, echoing radio programmer Jacobs. Just a good-time entertainment band, you know? A bridge between [pop crooner] Phil Collins and [hard rock outfit] Whitesnake. Despite this confidence, the group was ill prepared for their emerging superstar status and experienced some growing pains. With the first two albums, we were happy to have enough money to go to McDonalds, Jon Bon Jovi told Edna Gundersen of USA Today.We went through the phase of buy, buy, buy!, he continued. Its hard to grow up when that kind of success is thrust upon you.

But grow up they did. The band embarked on a grueling world tour to promote Slippery When Wet, which had reached number one on the album charts, then immediately launched into writing and recording its follow-up, New Jersey, released in 1988. That album generated more hits, including Lay Your Hands on Me, Bad Medicine, Ill Be There for You, and Blood on Blood, ultimately reaching number one. High Fidelitys Ken Richardson wrote of the album, The first ten minutes are absolutely thrilling: Lay Your Hands on Me proves the band can play undiluted metal, and Bad Medicine proves it can add some of that mean streak to its pop sense.

New Jersey was the first American album released on the former-U.S.S.R.s state-owned record company Melodiya, a move that prompted Bon Jovi to visit the Soviet Union during the its 16-month tour. Though completely unintentional, Jon Bon Jovi took some flak on the home front for naming the album after his home state as it was perceived as a jab at Bruce Springsteen. I went to hell for calling the album New Jersey he groused in the Chicago Tribune.Springsteen owns the state. Somewhere along the line, when nobody was looking, he bought it.

The band would not release another album for four yearsan eternity in pop music; rumors abounded that the group was on the verge of splitting. The band members were, in fact, suffering from severe burnout, the result of virtually non-stop recording and touring. For years we spent every waking moment together, even vacations, said Sambora in a 1992 article in USA Today.People thought we were crazy to live, eat and breathe this band. We needed to get away from each other.

During the self-imposed hiatus from 1989 to 1991, both Sambora and Jon Bon Jovi released solo albums. Jons Blaze of Glory (1990), a collection of songs written for or inspired by the western Young Guns II, delivered tumbleweed authenticity but didnt over-whelm critics. The title track was a slow, dusty clone of Wanted Dead or Alive, according to Peoples Craig Tomashoff. Greg Sandow of Entertainment Weekly called it thin if you dont share his cowboy thang and rated it a C+. Samboras solo album, Stranger in This Town (1991), fared only marginally better with Sandow, who awarded it a B-, remarking, Gotta love Richie Samboras solo meditations for their brooding mood. But only a few of the songs stand out.

New Maturity

Several significant events in Jon Bon Jovis life occurred during the break from the band: In 1989 he married his girlfriend of ten years, Dorothea Hurley; two years later he started his own label, Jambco Records, and produced albums for Aldo Nova and Billy Falcon, as well as producing and co-writing songs for Cher, Stevie Nicks, and Hall & Oates. He and Sambora also set off on a two-week cross-country motorcycle trip that would significantly affect their creative juices; formerly apolitical, the two observed some of the countrys social ailments first-hand and decided to incorporate awareness-raising messages into their next album, thereby displaying a new maturity. On the image front, Jon Bon Jovi revamped his style by cutting his trademark dirty-blond tangle of hair; the result was a more contemporary look for the matinee-idol-handsome heartthrob.

Although 1992s much-anticipated Keep the Faith debuted at number five on the Billboard charts, the fully rested Bon Jovi were concerned about the albums long-term prospects. Much had changed on the hard rock scene since the success of New Jersey, with Seattles so-called grunge bands Soundgarden, Pearl Jam, and Nirvana riding an unprecedented alternative-rock wave of popularity. Undeterred, Jon Bon Jovi faced this challenge head-on, dismissing long-time manager Doc McGhee and undertaking management of the band himself.

Success is a funny thing, he told Roy Trakin in a 1993 Music Express interview. I enjoyed it, but no one seemed to care for the five of us the way they cared about keeping the machine running. By the time the New Jersey tour was over, nobody even said goodbye to one another. Were on our own now, he continued. Its five grown-up guys who are supporting ourselves with no one to congratulate or blame but ourselves. This is our turn on the firing line, and well see what comes of it.

Critical reaction to Keep the Faith was lukewarm despite a major publicity effort by Mercury. Spins Eddy called Dry County, inspired by Jons motorcycle trek to California, [an] interminable opus about economic depression in a hamlet where booze is illegal. Of Bed of Roseswhich nonetheless became a hitEddy wrote, Sounds like Billy Joela vodka-soaked holy-ghost piano waltz. Yet Rolling Stone praised Ill Sleep When Im Dead, assessing, This booming combination of hammerhead vocal hooks and weekend-warrior hedonism is classic Bon Jovi. If Jon and the boys didnt invent this sure-shot formula, they certainly own the patent.

Though not the smash of their former efforts, Keep the Faith seemed to satisfy fans, and Jon Bon Jovi was confident that the bands core group of admirers would truly keep the faith. Criticism in some circles that he had sold out to commercial interests led the rock veteran to respond in USA Today: For the first time Im not impressed with money or numbers. I got wiser and I learned to deal with success. I can take valid criticism very easily, but not from a gunslinger out to beat me up before he even listens to the album. There are certain critics in the world who arent ever going to like me no matter what. What can I do? Im not out to make them happy.

Continued Success

Hoping to capitalize on the release of their multiplati-num-selling greatest hits collection entitled Cross Road, Bon Jovi released These Days in 1995. The album featured the lead single This Aint A Love Song, Diamond Ring, an acoustic ballad, and Something for the Pain, a true rock song. I think its the most introspective record weve done, Jon Bon Jovi told Billboard in 1995. The group toured widely in support of the album, including three sold-out shows at Wembley Stadium in London, England. The year 2000 saw the release of Crush, the groups first album for Island/Def Jam Music Group after the label subsumed Mercury Records in a merger between Universal/PolyGram. David E. Thigpen of Time called the album a piece of vintage 90s pop-metal, as straightforward as a stretch of the New Jersey Turnpike. Though not the blockbuster success of Slippery When Wet, the album was certified multiplatinum in 2001.

Jon Bon Jovi has enjoyed a budding career as an actor, appearing in such films as Moonlight and Valentino in 1995, Destination Anywhere in 1997, Homegrown in 1998, U-571 in 2000, and Pay It Forward in 2001. He and Sambora continue to build successful solo careers, and Torres has looked beyond the stage to find success as an artist and as the creator of a baby clothing line called Rock Star Baby.

Selected discography

Bon Jovi, Mercury, 1984.

7800 Fahrenheit, Mercury, 1985.

Slippery When Wet, Mercury, 1986.

New Jersey, Mercury, 1988.

Keep the Faith, Mercury, 1992.

Cross Road, Mercury, 1994.

These Days, Mercury, 1995.

Crush, Island/Mercury, 2000.

One Wild Night: Live 1985-2001, Universal, 2001.

Sources

Periodicals

Billboard, June 12, 1993; May 20, 1995; May 13, 2000.

Chicago Tribune, March 19, 1989.

Detroit Free Press, March 8, 1987; May 25, 1987.

Entertainment Weekly, December 11, 1992.

High Fidelity, January 1989.

Interview, December 1990.

Music Express, January 1993.

People, October 1, 1990; November 30, 1998.

Rolling Stone, November 20, 1986; February 9, 1989, December 10, 1992.

Spin, January 1993.

Time, June 26, 2000, p. 74.

USA Today, November 9, 1992.

Online

Bon Jovi, RollingStone.com, http://www.rollingstone.com (August 13, 2001).

Bon Jovi Official Website, http://www.bonjovi.com (August 13, 2001).

Internet Movie Database, http://www.imdb.com (August 30, 2001).

Recording Industry of America, http://www.riaa.com (August 13, 2001).

Additional information for this profile was obtained from Jambco/PolyGram Records, 1992.

Mary Scott Dye

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Bon Jovi

Bon Jovi

Rock band

For the Record

Runaway Kicked off Career

Slippery Breakthrough

Faced Challenge of Grunge

Selected discography

Sources

Bon Jovi was responsible for the most organic- sounding technopop-metal hybrids of the 80s, wrote Spins Chuck Eddy in 1993 of the megapopular five-member band named after its lead singer, Jon Bon Jovi. Credited as one of the creators of metal lite or pop metalheavy metal rock softened by Top Forty lyricsthe band rose to prominence with the help of millions of MTV-watching teenage listeners during a decade dominated by the likes of pop giants Madonna and Michael Jackson. Eddy characterized Bon Jovis sound as dirty-white-boy guitars, a pinch of rockabilly twang, and maybe a couple of classically orchestrated disco strings in his critique of the bands chartbusting 1986 album Slippery When Wet. Indeed, the New Jersey rockers who are the states second-most-famous musical export (after working-class hero Bruce Springsteen), have not only survived but thrived in an ever-changing, intensely competitive industry. Thanks to their music skills, carefully polished image, loyalty to fans, and collective good looks, Bon Jovi has sold more than 30 million records globally. We just want kids to have fun, nothing moreand nothing less, Jon Bon

For the Record

Members include Jon Bon Jovi (born John Bongiovi, March 2, 1962, in Sayreville, NJ; son of John [a hairdresser] and Carol [owner of a gift shop] Bongiovi; married Dorothea Hurley, 1989; children: Stephanie Rose), vocals, guitar; David Bryan (born David Bryan Rashbaum, c. 1962 in Edison, NJ), keyboards; Richie Sambora (born c. 1959 in Woodbridge, NJ; replaced Dave Sabo, c. 1983), guitar; Alec Jon Such (born c. 1952 in Perth Amboy, NJ), bass; and Hector Tico Torres (born c. 1954 in Colonia, NJ), drums.

Band formed as the Wild Ones in New Jersey, c. 1982; signed by PolyGram Records; released self-titled debut album, 1984; toured U.S.S.R., c. 1988. Jon Bon Jovi founded Jambco record label, 1991, has served as producer and songwriter for other artists, and assumed management of Bon Jovi, c. 1992.

Awards: Double platinum records for Bon Joui and 7800Fahrenheit and multiplatinum records for Slippery When Wet and New Jersey.

Addresses: Record company Jambco/PolyGram, PolyGram Worldwide Plaza, 825 Eighth Avenue, New York, NY 10019.

Jovi stated in a 1986 interview in Rolling Stone. We arent U2, we arent gonna change the world.... Were a rock band, and thats all were supposed to be.

Born March 2, 1962, in Sayreville, New Jersey, Jon Bon Jovi is the oldest son of Italian-Americans John and Carol Bongiovi. John Sr., a hairdresser, was notorious for closely cropping his three young sons hair. Mrs. Bongiovi, a gift-shop owner and former Playboy bunny, planted the seed of her sons love of music when she brought home a guitar for seven-year-old Jon. I was very much the average American kid, he told Jill Selsman in Interview. I wanted to be an astronaut, a cop, or a baseball player. I remember my first experience with a guitar very well. . . . I flung it down the steps and heard it going oing, oing, oing. I remember hearing that and thinking, thats pretty cool. It took another seven years for me to want to get into it, though.

As a teenager Jon was influenced by the music of folk rocker Bob Dylan, Irish mystic-soulman Van Morrison, and fellow New Jerseyites Springsteen and South Side Johnny and the Asbury Jukes. He played in several bands, including the Atlantic City Expressway (his first), the Rest, and the Raze. A highlight of his early career came when Springsteen joined the Atlantic City Expressway onstage for an impromptu jam session in an Asbury Park nightclub, a near religious experience for Jon.

Following high school graduation, the already ambitious singer and musician was ready to leave Sayreville, an industrial town he considered a dead end. Jons cousin, Tony Bongiovi, part-owner of the Power Station, a well-known New York City recording studio, gave him a job sweeping floors. The perks of the position included rubbing elbows with Rolling Stone Mick Jagger and pop star David Bowie and recording demo tapes with professional back-up bands during non-peak hours. During this period, Jon attempted to interest record companies in his music, with little success.

Runaway Kicked off Career

In 1982 one of Jons demo songs, Runaway, became a surprise hit following local radio airplay of a compilation album featuring amateur groups. Soon thereafter, the budding rock star was signed by Mercury Records, a division of PolyGram, and suddenly found himself in need of a permanent band. He assembled some of his early Jersey Shore matesTico Torres, Dave Bryan, Alec Jon Such, and Dave Sabo, who was eventually replaced by Richie Samboraas the Wild Ones and watched Mercury turn Runaway into a national hit. Properly marketing the band, which had since become simply Bongiovi, was critical to Mercury executives, who insisted on a spelling change to minimize what they apparently deemed the too-Italian character of Jon Bon Jovis surname. Thus was born the phoneticized Bon Jovi; the singer took this opportunity to change his name as well. Though the band would develop a strong group identity, Mercury did not offer Torres, Bryan, Such, and Sambora a contract, effectively making them Jons employees.

In 1984 the group released its first album, Bon Jovi, and began touring as the opening act for established acts such as .38 Special, Ted Nugent, Eddie Money, Judas Priest, and ZZ Top. As his ensemble began to enjoy coast-to-coast attention, Jon Bon Jovi landed in the middle of lawsuit brought by his cousin Tony, who claimed to have advanced Jons career and now wanted payment for his efforts. The suit was settled out of court, with Tony Bongiovi winning a producers credit, cash award, and royalties on the groups first release as well as a one percent royalty on the next two albums. This infuriated Jon, who considered Tonys influence minimal at best. Despite the legal wrangling, the first album sold well and laid the groundwork for the bands basic sound: a big beat with catchy lyrics.

Bon Jovi was quickly followed in 1985 by 7800 Fahrenheit the melting point of rockwhich sold over 500,000 copies. Though critics were generally unimpressed with the band and considered them more fluff than stuff, the teenage crowd couldnt get enough of them. The whole younger rock movement was in dire need of someone to come along and be a superstar, national radio programmer Fred Jacobs explained to the Detroit Free Press, elaborating, The pop ranks have had so many people in the past few years ... but the young rockers really havent had anybody to get them into the arenas and throw their fists in the air and get nuts about.

Slippery Breakthrough

In 1986, Slippery When Wet, Bon Jovis third and best-selling album to date (over 13 million copies), was released to largely positive reviews. Audiences savored the combination of heavy metal guitar crunch and upbeat lyrics. With singles like You Give Love a Bad Name, Living on a Prayer, and Wanted Dead or Alive, the band had reached a new plateau of success. This was due, in part, to the increasing prominence of music videos, which allowed for superior marketing of the videogenic quintet. Nobody knew what Bon Jovi was, guitarist Richie Sambora later told the Detroit Free Press. It couldve been a spaghetti or a jeans company for all they knew. We said, No actors, no actresses, no concept. Were going for simplicity. Just come and film us live, at a show. All of a sudden, Bon Jovi became Bon Jovi. It was clearly defined. Whats Bon Jovi? Its a rock n roll band.

Sambora also attributed the albums success to the groups ability to fill a niche in the music business. There was a need by the people for a Bon Jovi, he said in a 1989 Rolling Stone interview, echoing radio programmer Jacobs. Just a good-time entertainment band, you know? A bridge between [pop crooner] Phil Collins and [hard rock outfit] Whitesnake. Despite this confidence, the group was ill-prepared for their emerging superstar status and experienced some growing pains. With the first two albums, we were happy to have enough money to go to McDonalds, Jon Bon Jovi told Edna Gundersen of USA Today. We went through the phase of buy, buy, buy!, he continued. Its hard to grow up when that kind of success is thrust upon you.

But grow up they did. The band embarked on a grueling world tour to promote Slippery When Wet, which had reached Number One on the album charts, then immediately launched into writing and recording its follow-up, New Jersey, released in 1988. That album generated more hits, including Lay Your Hands on Me, Bad Medicine, Ill Be There for You, and Blood on Blood, ultimately reaching Number One and selling more than nine million copies worldwide. High Fidelitys Ken Richardson wrote of the album, The first ten minutes are absolutely thrilling: Lay Your Hands on Me proves the band can play undiluted metal, and Bad Medicine proves it can add some of that mean streak to its pop sense.

New Jersey was the first American album released on the then-U.S.S.R.s state-owned record company Melodiya, a move that prompted Bon Jovi to visit the Soviet Union during the its 16-month tour. Though completely unintentional, Jon Bon Jovi took some flak on the home front for naming the album after his home state as it was perceived as a jab at Bruce Springsteen. I went to hell for calling the album New Jersey, he groused in the Chicago Tribune. Springsteen owns the state. Somewhere along the line, when nobody was looking, he bought it.

The band would not release another album for four yearsan eternity in pop music; rumors abounded that the group was on the verge of splitting. The bandmembers were, in fact, suffering from severe burnout, the result of virtually non-stop recording and touring. For years we spent every waking moment together, even vacations, said Sambora in a 1992 article in USA Today. People thought we were crazy to live, eat and breathe this band. We needed to get away from each other.

During the self-imposed hiatus from 1989 to 1991, both Sambora and Jon Bon Jovi released solo albums. Jons Blaze of Glory (1990), a collection of songs written for or inspired by the western Young Guns II, delivered tumbleweed authenticity but didnt overwhelm critics. The title track was a slow, dusty clone of Wanted Dead or Alive, according to Peoples Craig Tomashoff. Greg Sandow of Entertainment Weekly called it thin if you dont share his cowboy thang and rated it a C+. Samboras solo album, Stranger in This Town (1991), fared only marginally better with Sandow, who awarded it a B-, remarking, Gotta love Richie Samboras solo meditations for their brooding mood. But only a few of the songs stand out.

Several significant events in Jon Bon Jovis life occurred during the break from the band: In 1989 he married his girlfriend of ten years, Dorothea Hurley; two years later he started his own label, Jambco Records, and produced albums for Aldo Nova and Billy Falcon, as well as producing and co-writing songs for Cher, Stevie Nicks, and Hall & Oates. He and Sambora also set off on a two-week cross-country motorcycle trip that would significantly affect their creative juices; formerly apolitical, the two observed some of the countrys social ailments first-hand and determined to incorporate awareness-raising messages into their next album, thereby displaying a new maturity. On the image front, Jon Bon Jovi revamped his style by cutting his trademark dirty-blond tangle of hair; the result was a more contemporary look for the matinee-idol-hand-some heartthrob.

Faced Challenge of Grunge

Although 1992s much-anticipated Keep the Faith debuted at Number Five on the Billboard charts, the fully rested Bon Jovi were concerned about the albums long-term prospects. Much had changed on the hard rock scene since the success of New Jersey, with Seattles so-called grunge bands Soundgarden, Pearl Jam, and Nirvana riding an unprecedented alternative-rock wave of popularity. Undeterred, Jon Bon Jovi faced this challenge head-on, dismissing long-time manager Doc McGhee and undertaking management of the band himself.

Success is a funny thing, he told Roy Trakin in a 1993 Music Express interview. I enjoyed it, but no one seemed to care for the five of us the way they cared about keeping the machine running. By the time the New Jersey tour was over, nobody even said goodbye to one another. Were on our own now, he continued. Its five grown-up guys who are supporting ourselves with no one to congratulate or blame but ourselves. . . . This is our turn on the firing line, and well see what comes of it.

Critical reaction to Keep the Faith was lukewarm despite a major publicity effort by Mercury. Spins Eddy called Dry County, inspired by Jons motorcycle trek to California, [an] interminable opus about economic depression in a hamlet where booze is illegal. Of Bed of Roseswhich nonetheless became a hitEddy wrote, Sounds like Billy Joela vodka-soaked holy-ghost piano waltz. Yet Rolling Stone praised Ill Sleep When Im Dead, assessing, This booming combination of hammerhead vocal hooks and weekend-warrior hedonism is classic Bon Jovi. If Jon and the boys didnt invent this sure-shot formula, they certainly own the patent.

Though not the smash of their former efforts, Keep the Faith seemed to satisfy fans, and Jon Bon Jovi was confident that the bands core group of admirers would truly keep the faith. Criticism in some circles that he had sold out to commercial interests led the rock veteran to respond in USA Today, For the first time Im not impressed with money or numbers. I got wiser and I learned to deal with success. ... I can take valid criticism very easily, but not from a gunslinger out to beat me up before he even listens to the album. There are certain critics in the world who arent ever going to like me no matter what. What can I do? Im not out to make them happy.

Selected discography

On Mercury/PolyGram Records, except where noted

Bon Jovi, 1984.

7800 Fahrenheit, 1985.

Slippery When Wet, 1986.

New Jersey, 1988.

Keep the Faith, Jambco/Mercury, 1992.

Sources

Periodicals

Billboard, June 12, 1993.

Chicago Tribune, March 19, 1989.

Detroit Free Press, March 8, 1987; May 25, 1987.

Entertainment Weekly, December 11, 1992.

High Fidelity, January 1989.

Interview, December 1990.

Music Express, January 1993.

People, October 1, 1990.

Rolling Stone, November 20, 1986; February 9, 1989; December 10, 1992.

Spin, January 1993.

USA Today, November 9, 1992.

Additional information for this profile was obtained from Jambco/PolyGram Records, 1992.

Mary Scott Dye

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Bon Jovi." Contemporary Musicians. . Encyclopedia.com. 26 Jul. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Bon Jovi." Contemporary Musicians. . Encyclopedia.com. (July 26, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/education/news-wires-white-papers-and-books/bon-jovi

"Bon Jovi." Contemporary Musicians. . Retrieved July 26, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/education/news-wires-white-papers-and-books/bon-jovi

Sambora, Richie

Richie Sambora

Rock guitarist

For the Record

Selected discography

Sources

Though Bon Jovi fans know him best as that groups I revered lead guitarist, Richie Sambora has also established himself as a solo artist with a far different style than the arena-rock riffs that made him famous and helped Bon Jovi sell 75 million records since the mid-1980s. Sambora has released two solo albums in the 1990s that allow himto explore new territory. Studiowhiz Don Was produced the latest of the two and expressed admiration for both Samboras talent and hiswork ethic: Heres a guy who could spend the rest of his life cruising around on a boat!, Was remarked in a press release accompanying Undiscovered Sours debut. The producer failed to note further evidence of Samboras good fortune (or good sense)his marriage to television actress Heather Locklear, with whom he has a daughter.

Sambora was born in Perth Amboy, New Jerseyin 1959 and grew up in nearby Woodbridge. He began playing the guitar at the age of twelve, in the early 1970s, and was lucky to have his formative musical years marked by the active recording and touring of many influential bands who created the metal genre, such as Led Zeppelin. When he was offereda chance to join a band that seemed to hold potential, Sambora dropped out of college, adecision that upset his parents. But the Bruce Foster Band went nowhere and Sambora hit a low point in his life. In time, hejoined another New Jersey act, Bon Jovi, as their lead guitarist, and by 1985 the band was being booked on tour dates overseas. With their 1986 album Slippery When Wet and the song Living on a Prayer, Bon Jovi became one of the biggest rock successes of the decade.

Bon Jovi went on to sell literally millions of records and play to sell-out crowds of screaming fans on hundreds of occasions, but Sambora felt constrained. By the early 1990s, he knew he needed a break from the idolatry, especially after the band finished exhaustive world tours. Playing the same songs every night can drive a guy crazy, Sambora told Greg Rule in Guitar Player. I had to break free. Ineeded to refine my craft, become a better musician. I needed to find out who I was. Such desires were not easy to fulfill, though, simply because of Bon Jovis huge international success and the groups living legend status was a mixed blessing of sorts for Sambora when it came time to do his own project. Because of those sales, Im expected to live up to a lot, he told Guitar Player. To tell you the truth, I kin d of ignored the living up to a lot part. I kept the record company out of the studio. I gave people the same tape for seven months, and some would say things like, I love the changes you made to that song. I found out who was [real] and who wasnt.

While he was on tour in the early 1990s, Sambora wrote song fragments in his spare time. When he decided to make his solo record, he purchased several new guitars, and had to teach himself how to play thema strategy he knew would help him make that stylistic break from metal that hewanted. He later admitted that he was nervous about singing, since he had not done much of it in recent years with the exception of Bon Jovi back-up vocals, though he used to be the front man in his pre-Bon Jovi bands. After the first set of basic tracks, I was really happy with the way things were sounding, Sambora told Rule in Guitar Player.Everything was a lot more comfortable from that point.

Before making what would become his solo debut, 1991s Stranger in This Town, Sambora had the good fortune to meet one of his idols, Eric Clapton. Sambora had once been the presenter at a music-awards show and met himthen, and later was invited to sit in on a live session with Clapton, Lou Reed, Buddy Guy, and Bo Diddley. When Sambora was in the process of making Stranger, he sent Clapton a note asking him if he was interested in helping out on a track. To his surprise, Clapton was happy to guest on Mr. Bluesman, a song Sambora wrote about his guitar heroes such as Clapton and Robert Johnson. For some of the tracks, Sambora drew upon his early, pre-arena-concert songwriting forays when he was a New Jerseycollege dropout; both The Answer and One Light Burning had their creative origins in the years before he joined Bon Jovi.

For the Record

Born July 11, 1959, in Perth Amboy, NJ; son of Adam and Joan Sambora; married to actress Heather Locklear; children: Ava. Attended King College, late 1970s.

Samboras first band was the Bruce Foster Band; since 1984 he has been Bon Jovis lead guitarist and co-written four number one hit singles; released first solo album, Stranger in a Strange Land, Mercury, 1991; released Undiscovered Soul, Mercury, 1998.

Addresses: Record company Mercury Records, 825 Eighth Ave., New York, NY 10019, (212) 333-8000, Fax (212) 333-8245.

Sambora also drew upon even more ancient experiences for another track, Ballad of Youth. The first single off Stranger, Sambora wanted to send a message to fans about pressures and teen angst. I was thinking how hard it was for me to decipher being a teenager, he told Melinda Newman in Billboard. Now Im in my 30s and I want to say to kids, Hey man, dont be so hard on yourself because the worlds a tough place. Give yourself a break. Themes of lost love and alienation seemed to bind Stranger in This Town, wrote Billboards Newman. The result is a record that sounds more chunky, dense, and raw than typical Bon Jovi fare.

Sambora went back to Bon Jovi, who continued its successful formula of platinum-selling rock records and sold-out concert tours. During this time, Sambora was also introduced to the woman who would later become his wife, Melrose Place vixen, Heather Locklear. By the time the pair had wed and were expecting a daughter in 1997, Sambora decided to try his hand at another solo album. His solo debut, Sambora would later recollect, was a real murky record because it was a murky time in my life, he told Billboards Deborsh Evans Price. He and his bandmates, he said, were just mere shells of the guys we were, and he feltthat exhaustion had been evident on Stranger.

This time around, Sambora and his Bon Jovi label, Mercury, enlisted the help of famed producer Don Was. Records from acts as diverse as Bob Dylan to Jewel to the B-52s had benefited from Wass talents, but the Grammy-winning studio genius admitted he had reservations about working with Sambora. As Price wrote in Billboard, Was almost expected him to pull up in a limo and fall out in the producers driveway with a bottle of Jack Daniels. Yet Was found working with Sambora both a professional and enjoyable experience he praised the guitarists songwriting talents and his voice. He can dive into the well of inspiration and hold his breath for a long time, Was told Price. I learned a lot about making records working with him.

Undiscovered Soul, released in early 1998, was made intermittently over the course of the previous year. Was took some time off to work with the Rolling Stones in the studio, and Sambora devoted time to his wife and the arrival of their daughter. Locklear was enlisted to sing back-up for one track, and her Maltese dogs, Harley and Lambchop, are thanked in the liner notes of Undiscovered Soul. The notes also express graììtudeìone studio musicians who helped out, including Billy Preston, who once worked with the Beatles late in their career, and Chuck Leavell, on loan from the Rolling Stones tour. A People review was less than complimentary, noting that though Sambora himself is appealing and a decent singer, the album shows evidence of his eager embrace for every cliché in the rock-and-roll thesaurus. Yet New Jerseys Asbury Park Press cast a less critical eye on the hometown favorite: Sambora, wrote Kelly-Jane Cotter, is a likable performer with unmitigated enthusiasm for the guitar. His voice has never sounded better. And his approach to blues-rock is unpretentious and brisk.

Selected discography

Stranger in This Town, Mercury, 1991.

Undiscovered Soul, Mercury, 1998.

Sources

Asbury Park Press, February 20, 1998.

Billboard, September 7,1991, p. 66; September 14, 1991, pp. 38, 39; January 24, 1998, pp. 14, 24.

Guitar Player, March 1992, pp. 29-33.

People, March 9, 1998; March 16, 1998.

Additional information forthis profile was provided by Mercury Records publicity materials, 1998.

Carol Brennan

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Bon Jovi

BON JOVI

Formed: 1983, Sayreville, New Jersey

Members: Jon Bon Jovi, vocals, guitar (born John Bongiovi, Perth Amboy, New Jersey, 2 March 1962); David Bryan, keyboards (born Edison, New Jersey, 7 February 1962); Richie Sambora, guitar (born Woodbridge, New Jersey, 11 July 1960); Tico Torres, drums (born New York, New York, 7 October 1953). Former member: Alec John Such, bass (born Perth Amboy, New Jersey, 14 November 1956).

Genre: Rock

Best-selling album since 1990: Crush (2000)

Hit songs since 1990: "It's My Life," "Bed of Roses," "Always"


After a commercial downturn for much of the 1990s, Bon Jovi returned with a bang in 2000 and reestablished themselves as America's preeminent commercial rock band.

John Bongiovi had an inglorious start to his musical career, working as a "go-fer" at New York's legendary Power Station recording studio. After hours he began recording his own songs and soon had amassed a collection of demos. One song in particular, "Runaway," attracted the attention of a local radio station, WAPP, which included the song on a compilation of local music. "Runaway" became a huge local hit and even began to pick up national airplay. Bongiovi, lacking a band, quickly called upon fellow New Jerseyans David Bryan (keyboards), Richie Sambora (guitar), Tico Torres (drums), and Alec John Such (bass), dubbing his new band Bon Jovi and changing his own name to Jon Bon Jovi.

Bon Jovi signed with Mercury Records, which released the band's self-titled debut album in 1984. "Runaway" was included on the album and, backed by the marketing power of Mercury Records, landed in the Top 40 in its second life. With their big, teased hair and tight leather pantsthe standard look of hard rock acts of the daythe band quickly became an MTV favorite.

The band's second album, 7800 Fahrenheit (1985), was a commercial disappointment and put pressure on the band to release a hit third album. Bon Jovi did not disappointthe resulting Slippery When Wet (1986) spent ninety-four weeks on the Billboard album charts, including eight at number one; the album sold 9 million copies in the United States and featured two number one singles: "You Give Love a Bad Name" and "Livin' on a Prayer."

The band toured relentlessly in support of Slippery When Wet and, when the tour finally ended, the band rushed back into the studio to record New Jersey (1988), a big-sounding pop-rock record that featured four Top 10 singles, including the chart toppers "Bad Medicine" and "I'll Be There for You." New Jersey sold 5 million copies.

Physically exhausted from years of constant touring and recording, the band members went their separate ways at the beginning of the 1990s. The producers of the movie Young Guns II wanted to use Bon Jovi's cowboy anthem "Wanted Dead or Alive" as the movie's theme song, but Jon Bon Jovi ended up recording the entire soundtrack album for the filmhis first solo effortand also made his film debut in the movie. The soundtrack featured the single "Blaze of Glory," which reached number one on the pop charts and earned Jon Bon Jovi a Golden Globe for Best Song from a Motion Picture. Sambora also released his own solo album, the bluesy Stranger in This Town (1991), which features guitar legend Eric Clapton.

In 1992 the band reunited to record Keep the Faith. The album was a commercial disappointment by Bon Jovi's standards, selling only 2 million copies in the United States. Though the band had come to rely less on its keyboard-driven, 1980s-style sound in favor of a more complex and varied hard-rock presentation, Bon Jovi suffered from their past success and reputation; in large part, American commercial hard rock had shifted away from the band's pop-metal style and more toward the raw, grunge sounds of bands such as Nirvana. Keep the Faith did spawn the top ten ballad "Bed of Roses," which features a soft piano prominently in the mix and sports a slick, adult contemporary sound, punctuated by the romantic chorus hook: "I want to lay you down in a bed of roses / For tonight, I sleep on a bed of nails / I want to be just as close as the Holy Ghost is / And lay you down on a bed of roses."

With Bon Jovi's contemporary music stalling, Mercury Records chose to release Cross Road, a greatest hits collection, in 1994. Cross Road featured the new song "Always," another tender ballad. "Always" sold more than 3 million copies as a single and suggested that a Bon Jovi comeback was in the offing. The band's renewed success was tempered somewhat by the loss of their original bass player, Alec John Such, whom the band fired in 1994.

The band's much-anticipated new album, These Days (1995), was a major commercial disappointment for Bon Jovi, selling only 650,000 copies. The album's slick adult contemporary pop-rock sound disappointed the Bon Jovi faithful, which longed for the band's trademark working-class rock anthems such as "Livin' on a Prayer." The band's future seemed in doubt as well, with Jon Bon Jovi and Richie Sambora each focusing on second solo albums. Jon Bon Jovi also became more involved in cinema, starring in the film Moonlight and Valentino (1996).

In 2000 Bon Jovi released their seventh studio album, Crush. The album found the band embracing its roots, revisiting the big arena-rock sound that had established the band in the 1980sa sound that also was enjoying major retro appeal at the time. The lead single "It's My Life" was a major hit. "It's My Life" features a crunching rock sound punctuated by the same talk-box guitar that Sambora had employed on "Livin' on a Prayer"; the song's lyrics find the band celebrating the here-and-now and addressing adversity, perhaps in recognition of the band's own difficulties: "It's my life / It's now or never / I ain't gonna live forever / I just want to live while I'm alive." Crush debuted on the Billboard album charts at number seven and sold more than 7 million copies worldwide. In support of the album, the band did a sold-out arena tour of Europe, Japan, and the United States, culminating in two homecoming concerts at Giants Stadium in New Jersey; the concerts, broadcast on VH1, broke the music television station's ratings records.

The band's plans for a hiatus following the Crush tour changed with the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. Bon Jovi appeared at the Tribute to Heroes telethon and at the Concert for New York that fall, raising money for victims of the tragedy. Bon Jovi also returned to the studio to record Bounce, a tribute to the nation's resiliency in the face of the terrorist attacks. Released in 2002, the album featured the hard-charging lead single "Everyday," which, like "It's My Life," celebrated the band's live-inthe-moment philosophy: "I've had enough of cryin' / Bleeding, sweatin', dyin' / Hear me when I say / Gonna live my life every day." Bounce debuted at number two on the Billboard album charts.

Bon Jovi emerged from a commercial void in the 1990s and launched a major comeback by returning to their musical roots. Launching a "second career" with "It's My Life," Bon Jovi entered the new millennium once again atop the charts.

SELECTIVE DISCOGRAPHY:

Bon Jovi (Mercury, 1984); 7800 Fahrenheit (Mercury, 1985); Slippery When Wet (Mercury, 1986); New Jersey (Mercury, 1988); Keep the Faith (Mercury, 1992); These Days (Mercury, 1995); Crush (Island, 2000); Bounce (Island, 2002).

scott tribble

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