- Jon Bon Jovi – vocals, guitar, percussion, harmonica (1983-present)
- Richie Sambora – guitar, backing vocals, talk box (1983-present)
- David Bryan – keyboards, backing vocals (1983-present)
- Tico Torres – drums, percussion (1983-present)
- One Wild Night Live 1985-2001 (2001)
- Bon Jovi (1984)
- 7800° Fahrenheit (1985)
- Slippery When Wet (1986)
- New Jersey (1988)
- Keep the Faith (1992)
- Cross Road: Greatest Hits (1994)
- These Days (1995)
- Crush (2000)
- Bounce (2002)
- This Left Feels Right (2003)
- Have a Nice Day (2005)
- Lost Highway (2007)
- The Circle (2009)
Bon Jovi is an American hard rock band from Sayreville, New Jersey. They are fronted by lead singer and namesake Jon Bon Jovi, the group originally achieved large-scale success in the 1980s. Over the past 25 years, Bon Jovi has sold over 120 million albums worldwide, including 36 million in the United States alone.
Founding member Jon Bon Jovi began to play piano and guitar at thirteen with his first band, called Raze. At sixteen, Bon Jovi met David Bryan, born David Bryan Rashbaum, and formed a 12-piece cover band named Atlantic City Expressway after the New Jersey highway. They played at New Jersey clubs, even though they were still minors. Still in his teens, Bon Jovi played in the band John Bongiovi and the Wild Ones, playing local clubs like “The Fast Lane” and opening for known acts in the area.
By mid-1982, Jon was out of school and he took a job at the Power Station Studios, a Manhattan recording facility where his cousin, Tony Bongiovi, was a co-owner. Bon Jovi made several demos, including one produced by Billy Squier, and sent them out to many record companies, but failed to make an impact.
In 1983, Bon Jovi visited the local radio station WAPP 103.5FM “The Apple” in Lake Success, New York. He spoke directly to the D.J., Chip Hobart, who suggested Bon Jovi let WAPP include the song “Runaway” on a compilation album of local homegrown talent. Bon Jovi was reluctant but eventually gave them the song on which Bon Jovi had used studio musicians to play on the track “Runaway”, originally written in 1980.
The song began to get airplay in the New York area, then other sister stations in major markets picked up the song. In March 1983 Bon Jovi called David Bryan, who in turn called bassist Alec John Such and an experienced drummer named Tico Torres.
Tapped to play lead guitar was Bon Jovi’s neighbor, Dave Sabo, a.k.a. The Snake, who later went on and formed the group Skid Row.
Richie Sambora became the band’s lead guitarist.
Before joining the group, Sambora had toured with Joe Cocker, played with a group called Mercy and had been called up to audition for Kiss. He also played on the album Lessons with the band Message, which was re-released on CD through Long Island Records in 1995. Message was originally signed to Led Zeppelin’s Swan Song Records label, although the album was never released.
Drummer Tico Torres was also an experienced musician, having recorded and played live with Phantom’s Opera, The Marvelettes, and Chuck Berry. He appeared on 26 records and had recently recorded with Franke and the Knockouts, a Jersey band with hit singles during the early 1980s.
David Bryan had quit the band he and Bon Jovi founded in order to study medicine. While in college, he realized he wanted to pursue music full-time and was accepted to Juilliard School, the New York music school. When Bon Jovi called his friend and said he was putting together a band and a record deal looked likely, Bryan followed Bon Jovi’s lead and gave up his studies.
The Bon Jovi lineup, which remained stable for a decade, was:
- Jon Bon Jovi (lead vocals, rhythm guitar)
- Richie Sambora (lead guitar, backing vocals)
- David Bryan (keyboard, backing vocals)
- Tico Torres (drums, percussion)
- Alec John Such (bass guitar, backing vocals)
Once the band began playing showcases and opening for local talent, they caught the attention of record executive Derek Shulman, who signed them to Mercury Records, part of the PolyGram company. Because Jon Bon Jovi wanted a group name, Jerry Jaffe, head of A&R at PolyGram, came up with Bon Jovi.
With the help of their new manager Doc McGhee, the band’s debut album, Bon Jovi, was released on January 21, 1984. The album went Gold in the U.S and was also released in the UK. The single “Runaway” was the band’s first Top 40 hit, reaching #39 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1984. The group found themselves opening for ZZ Top at Madison Square Garden, before their first album had been released, and for Scorpions and Kiss in Europe. They also made an appearance on the popular television program American Bandstand.
In 1985, Bon Jovi’s second album 7800° Fahrenheit was released. While embarking on a tour opening up for Ratt, the album received a poor response by critics. Jon Bon Jovi himself later said it could have and should have been better.
In April of 1986, Bon Jovi packed up and moved to Vancouver, British Columbia to record their third album. Six months of decadent living and non-stop studio work resulted in Slippery When Wet. The album, produced by Bruce Fairbairn and recorded and mixed by Bob Rock, was released in August of 1986 and was destined to represent what would become the trademark Bon Jovi sound. The first single, “You Give Love a Bad Name”, became the band’s first Number One single on the Billboard charts. The follow-up single, “Livin’ On A Prayer” hit Number One as well, spending four weeks at the top position. The album’s third single, “Wanted Dead or Alive” peaked at #7 on the Billboard charts but emerged, and still remains to this day, the Bon Jovi “National Anthem” – the band’s most recognizable hit.
When Slippery When Wet was released in August of 1986, Bon Jovi was the support act for 38 SPECIAL. By the end of 1986, Bon Jovi were well into six months of headline dates in arenas across America.
In 1987, the band headlined England’s “Monsters of Rock” festival with Dio, Metallica, W.A.S.P., Anthrax, and Cinderella. The tour took its toll on singer Jon Bon Jovi when he began having vocal difficulties. The extremely high notes and unrelenting schedule threatened to damage his voice permanently. With the help of a vocal coach, he made it through the tour. Bon Jovi has tended to sing slightly lower pitches since then.
The next album was 1988’s New Jersey. The album was recorded shortly after the tour for Slippery When Wet. The resulting album was a commercial success, with hit songs “Bad Medicine”, “Lay Your Hands on Me” and “I’ll Be There for You”, which are still in their live repertoire.
Perhaps, Jon Bon Jovi and Richie Sambora’s most influential performance was on the 1989 Mtv Video Music Awards. Armed only with acoustic guitars, They performed “Wanted Dead Or Alive” and “Livin On A Prayer.” To Jon Bon Jovi and Richie Sambora, it wasn’t much of a big deal; the songs were written on two acoustic guitars and, therefore, stripping them down to their basic form was a natural thing to do. However, the response from those who witnessed the performance, both live at the awards and at home on television, was instantaneous and enthusiastic. This performance has generally been acknowledged as the inspirational spark that led to the MTV UnPlugged series and the catalyst for the subsequent popularity of the unplugged movement in popular music.
Between 1990 and 1992, the band members went their separate ways. The exhaustion of recording both Slippery When Wet and New Jersey back to back with highly paced world tours after each album took its toll on the band. The band have since stated that there were few if any goodbyes between them at the end of the New Jersey tour. During the time they took off from the scene, the band retreated to their own interests and showed no desire for making another album.
Jon Bon Jovi recorded a solo album, a soundtrack to the movie Young Guns II, more commonly known as Blaze of Glory, in which he had an extremely brief cameo.
In 1992, the band met together and managed to resolve their differences by allowing each member to speak about his feelings without interruption from another. Upon resolving their issues, the band returned with the album Keep the Faith.Album was released in November of 1992 to the most critical acclaim the band had ever received.Produced by Bob Rock, the album signified an ending to their early Glam Metal roots in previous albums, introduced a more “rock n roll” driven groove to the album. Much more complex, lyrically and musically, the album proved Bon Jovi could still be a viable band in 1992, despite the decline of the late ’80s pop metal genre into which the band had been lumped and despite the industry’s and audience’s growing affinity for Grunge. As Bon Jovi’s sound morphed itself to work in the 90’s music scene, their image changed as well. Gone were the excessive rock ‘n’ roll trappings of spandex and hairspray and hair.Singles “Bed of Roses” which was a huge Top 10 hit, “Keep the Faith” and “In These Arms”, all hit the Top 40 in the U.S. Other songs on the album were released as singles internationally, mainly “Dry County”, “I Believe”, and “I’ll Sleep When I’m Dead.”
1994, Bon Jovi released a greatest hits album titled Cross Road, with two new tracks: the hit singles “Always” and “Someday I’ll Be Saturday Night”.
That same year, bassist Alec John Such left the band, the first lineup change since Bon Jovi began. Hugh McDonald, who was the bassist on “Runaway”, unofficially replaced Such as bassist, with rumors that he had also recorded bass on previous albums. Jon Bon Jovi said, regarding the departure of Such: “Of course it hurts. But I learned to accept and respect it. The fact that I’m a workaholic, studio in, studio out, stage on, stage off, want to be dealing with music day and night, doesn’t mean everyone else has to adjust to that pace. Alec wanted to quit for a while now, so it didn’t come as a complete surprise.”
With Hugh McDonald called in to handle bass duties, Bon Jovi opted to tour heavily in support of Cross Road and, while out on tour, These Days was released in June of 1995.”This Ain’t a Love Song” was the first single off the album.
Following the overwhelming global success of the These Days album and tour, the members of Bon Jovi went their separate ways. But unlike the period following the New Jersey tour, tainted with uncertainty, this hiatus was a conscious group decision. The members of Bon Jovi agreed to a self-imposed two-year sabbatical from the band.
In 1997 Jon Bon Jovi released Destination Anywhere. The album received positive reviews and was a success across Europe.
Bon Jovi reunited in 1999 to record the song “Real Life” for the movie EdTV. David Bryan didn’t make it to the filming of the video for the song because of a hand injury sustained in a home improvement mishap, so the band used a cardboard cutout of him for the shoot.
Their 2000 release, Crush, enjoyed success both in the U.S. and overseas, thanks in part to the smash-hit single “It’s My Life”.Crush, which also produced such hits as “Say It Isn’t So” and “Thank You For Loving Me”, soon became the band’s most successful studio album since Keep the Faith, and helped introduce them to a new, younger fan base.
In late 2002, Bounce hit stores. It produced hit single “Everyday”. The band went on the U.S. Bounce Tour for this album, during which they made history as the last band to play Veterans Stadium in Philadelphia before it was torn down. The band also released a promotional album through Target, featuring eight demo and live tracks.
Following the end of the Bounce Tour in August 2003, Bon Jovi embarked on a project; originally intending to produce an album consisting of live acoustic performances, the band ended up rewriting, re-recording and reinventing 12 of their biggest hits in a new and much different light. This Left Feels Right was released in November 2003.
The following year the band released a box set entitled 100,000,000 Bon Jovi Fans Can’t Be Wrong, the title being an homage to Elvis Presley’s 50,000,000 Elvis Fans Can’t Be Wrong. The set consisted of four CDs packed with 38 unreleased and 12 rare tracks, as well as a DVD. The box set marked the sales of 100 million Bon Jovi albums and also commemorated the 20th anniversary of the release of the band’s first record in 1984.
Bon Jovi’s ninth studio album, Have a Nice Day, was released in September 2005. The album topped the charts around the world, giving Bon Jovi its career-best first week sales of over 202,000 albums. “Have A Nice Day” was the first single off the new album, and debuted at radio worldwide on July 18, 2005. The second single, “Who Says You Can’t Go Home”, was released in the U.S. in early 2006, although internationally it was the third single release after “Welcome to Wherever You Are”.
On November 14, 2006, Bon Jovi were inducted into the UK Music Hall of Fame alongside James Brown and Led Zeppelin, joining music legends such as The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, U2, Madonna and Elvis Presley. They will not be eligible for the U.S. equivalent until 2009.
In June 2007, Bon Jovi released their tenth studio album, Lost Highway. The album debuted at number #1 on the Billboard charts, the first time that Bon Jovi have had a number one album on the U.S. charts since the release of New Jersey in 1988. The album sold 292,000 copies in its first week on sale in the U.S., and became Bon Jovi’s third US number one album. The first single from the new album was “(You Want to) Make a Memory”, which debuted, and peaked at #27 in the Billboard Hot 100, Bon Jovi’s highest ever debut in the U.S. charts. The album reached Number #1 in Japan, Canada, Australia and Europe, and reached number #2 in the UK.
On June 6, 2007, Richie Sambora checked himself into a rehabilitation facility. This meant that he missed a concert in Puerto Rico as well as several television appearances, with backup guitarist Bobby Bandiera taking his place. He checked out on June 13, and was present for Bon Jovi’s remaining summer concerts
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