Jon Bon Jovi is an American rock and pop singer, songwriter and musician who is also the frontman of Bon Jovi. He is famous for his hit singles during the 80s music era up to the 90s: “Blaze of Glory,” “You Give Love a Bad Name,” “Livin on a Prayer,” “Bad Medicine,” “Bed of Roses,” “I’ll be There for You,” and “Always,” among many others. Most of Jon Bon Jovi’s hits occurred with his own self-named band, which he formed in 1983. He has sold over 130 million records worldwide, making him one of the best-selling artists on the planet. Bon Jovi has also acted, with his most notable films being Moonlight and Valentino and TV appearances on Ally McBeal and Sex and the City. He is inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2009.
His blend of heavy metal and AOR music created his own signature sound that will be surely appreciated by oldies music fans as well as rock fans in this generation.
Early life and career
Jon Bon Jovi was born John Francis Bongiovi in Perth Amboy, New Jersey on March 2, 1962. He was the son of a barber and a former Playboy bunny who later worked as a florist.
When he was in his teens, Bongiovi frequently skipped classes in favor of music, which resulted into poor grades. When he was around 16, Bongiovi was seen playing at several clubs along with his friends and his cousin Tony Bongiovi. He jumped from one local band to another, including Atlantic City Expressway. One of Bongiovi’s band mates there was keyboardist David Ryan who would later become Bon Jovi’s own band member.
At 17, he cut his first record entitled “R2-D2 We Wish You a Merry Christmas,” from the recommendation of his cousin Tony.
In 1983 Bongiovi also became a member of the pop rock band Scandal as a rhythm guitarist, but only for a short time.
Formation of the band “Bon Jovi,” and initial success
John Bongiovi, later Jon Bon Jovi, recorded the song entitled “Runaway” (which he wrote with George Karak), and shipped it to several recording labels. After having been turned down many times, Jon Bon Jovi was eventually signed to Mercury Records following “Runaway”‘s regional success.
Upon his sigining to Mercury, Jon Bon Jovi immediately formed his eponymous band Bon Jovi, which originally consisted of keyboardist Ryan, bassist Alec John Such and drummer Tico Torres. At first, Skid Row’s Dave Sabo (who also happened to be Jon Bon Jovi’s neighbor) was originally slated to be the band’s lead guitarist, but he was later replaced by Richie Sambora, who would also co-write many of the band’s songs.
The band released their eponymous debut album in 1984. It carried the single “Runaway” which barely made it to the Top 40 (#39), but rose to #5 on the rock chart.
The band’s heady mixture of heavy metal with AOR material would finally pay off in a relatively short time. Over the next few two years Bon Jovi became one of the hottest rock bands on the planet, when their third album Slippery When Wet was released in 1986. The album brought the band into global fame and massive success, spawning several Billboard Hot 100 hit singles such as “You Give Love a Bad Name,” (#1, also #9 rock and #14 UK), “Livin’ on a Prayer” (#1, also #1 rock and #4 UK), “Wanted Dead or Alive” (#7, also #13 rock and #13 UK) and “Never Say Goodbye” (#28, also #11 rock and #21 UK).
Slippery When Wet climbed all the way to the top of the Billboard 200 chart, having sold an astounding 12 million copies — needless to say, it was certified 12 times platinum and diamond by the RIAA.
The follow-up album New Jersey was released in 1988. Like Slippery When Wet, the new album eventually reached its peak position on #1 on the Billboard 200 album chart, thanks to its singles, all of which reached the Top 10 of the Hot 100: “Bad Medicine” (#1 pop, #3 rock), “Born to Be My Baby” (#3 pop, #7 rock), “I’ll Be There for You” (#1 pop, #5 rock), “Lay Your Hands on Me” (#7 pop, #20 rock), and “Living in Sin” (#9 pop, #37 rock).
Solo career and other projects
Jon Bon Jovi and his band were at the peak of their commercial success, releasing megahit records and touring incessantly in five continents. Despite that, he sought for different opportunities outside his group. Besides, he and his band members came to a point of clashing with each other due to extreme exhaustion and burnout.
The opportunity came for Jon Bon Jovi when he was tapped to record the soundtrack to the film Young Guns II (aka Blaze of Glory) in 1990. His friend, actor Emilio Estevez, requested to Jon Bon Jovi that he use “Wanted Dead or Alive” as the theme song for the movie. Instead, he ended up writing a new theme song, in the process recording for his solo album.
Blaze of Glory/Young Guns II rose to #3 peak position on the Billboard 200 album chart in 1990 (it also peaked at #2 on the UK album chart). Its carrier single “Blaze of Glory” went to #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 and also on the rock singles chart. The song’s success helped it to win a Golden Globe trophy for “Best Original Song.” Its follow-up “Miracle” (also from the same album) peaked at #12 pop.
Jon Bon Jovi also wrote Hall & Oates’ 1990 hit single “So Close” along with Daryl Hall and Danny Kortchmar (Danny Kootch).
The following year Jon Bon Jovi established his own recording label, Jambco Records.
Jon Bon Jovi and his band in the 1990s
Despite all the succeses Jon Bon Jovi felt dissastisfied and disillusioned with the music business. He took a took week off from work and embarked on cross-country motorcyle ride trip — little did he know that it would actually be the inspiration of his next work.
Bon Jovi and his band members ditched their “hair metal” look and sought to change their musical style. News of Bon Jovi having cut his famous big hair made equally big headlines.
After the band resolved their own issues, they returned with another studio album Keep the Faith in 1992. Its first single, the title track, made a decent spot on the Hot 100 at #29, but the follow-up “Bed of Roses” became even more successful, peaking at #10 on the Hot 100. The band released a compilation album Cross Road, which was also their first “best-of” release. It also featured two new songs: “Always” and “Someday I’ll Be Satruday Night.” “Always” is a power ballad which became a massive hit reaching #4 on the Billboard Hot 100. Unfortunately, Cross Road would be the last album with bassist Such, who was then fired from the band following its release.
Jon Bon Jovi released his second solo effort Destination Anywhere in 1997, which presented a more mature, restrained sound. It also featured music from the film of the same name in which Jon Bon Jovi himself also appeared.
Career in the 2000’s and beyond
After a long hiatus, the Bon Jovi band released their seventh album Crush in 2000. It carried the lead single “It’s My Life” (#33 pop, #5 UK) which helped introduced Jon Bon Jovi’s music to the younger rock fans. The band followed this up with later studio albums Bounce (2002) and Have a Nice Day (2005).
In 2012, Jon Bon Jovi recorded a sountrack to the movie Stand Up Guys, also known as Not Running Anymore. It was later nominated for a Golden Globe Award.
Jon Bon Jovi is a vocal Democrat supporter, having actively campaigned for Al Gore in 2000, John Kerry in 2004, and Barack Obama in 2008 in their own presidential bids. President Obama appointed Jon Bon Jovi to the White House Council for Commumity Solutions in 2010.
He is also active in charity work and his affiliation with various non-profit organizations. He founded the Jon Bon Jovi Soul Foundation in 2006 which addresses the issues of homelessness in the US.
Jon Bon Jovi was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2009.
In 2015 he released two singles “Love Song to the Earth” and “Beautiful Day” to increase awareness towards global warming. As of this writing, the Bon Jovi band will release their latest studio album This House Is Not for Sale on Def Jam label this coming June 10.