Bon Jovi is an American rock band from Sayreville, New Jersey. Formed in 1983, Bon Jovi consists of lead singer and namesake Jon Bon Jovi, pianist and keyboardist David Bryan, drummer Tico Torres, lead guitarist Phil X, and bassist Hugh McDonald. The band's lineup has remained mostly static during its history, with the only exceptions being the 1994 dismissal of bass player Alec John Such, who was unofficially replaced by Hugh McDonald, and the departure of longtime guitarist and co-songwriter Richie Sambora in 2013. Phil X and McDonald both became official members in 2016.
In 1986, Bon Jovi achieved widespread global recognition with their third album, Slippery When Wet. The band's fourth album, New Jersey was equally successful in 1988. After touring and recording non-stop during the late 1980s, the band went on hiatus following the New Jersey Tour in 1990, during which time Jon Bon Jovi and Richie Sambora both released successful solo albums. In 1992, the band returned with the album Keep the Faith. Their 2000 single "It's My Life", which followed a second hiatus, successfully introduced the band to a younger audience. Bon Jovi have been known to use different styles in their music, which has included country for their 2007 album Lost Highway.
Thus far, Bon Jovi has released 13 studio albums, plus six compilations and three live albums. The band has sold more than 130 million records worldwide and performed more than 2,700 concerts in over 50 countries for more than 34 million fans. Bon Jovi was inducted into the UK Music Hall of Fame in 2006. The band was also honored with the Award of Merit at the American Music Awards in 2004, and as songwriters and collaborators, Jon Bon Jovi and Richie Sambora were inducted into Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2009.
On December 13, 2017, it was announced that Bon Jovi will be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2018, after winning the 2017 fan ballot with over 1.1 million votes. Jon Bon Jovi has invited Sambora and Such to appear with the band at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony.
Jon Bon Jovi began playing piano and guitar in 1975, at the age of 13, with his first band 'Raze'. At 16, Bon Jovi met David Bryan and formed a band called "Atlantic City Expressway". 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 1980, he formed another band, "The Rest", and opened up for New Jersey acts such as Southside Johnny and the Asbury Jukes.
By mid-1982, out of school and working part-time at a women's shoe store, Jon Bon Jovi took a job at the Power Station Studios, a Manhattan recording facility where his cousin Tony Bongiovi was co-owner. Bon Jovi made several demos—including one produced by Billy Squier—and sent them to record companies, though failing to make an impact. His first professional recording was as lead vocals in "R2-D2 We Wish You a Merry Christmas," which was part of the Christmas in the Stars album which his cousin co-produced.
In 1983, a then-unknown Bon Jovi visited a local radio station WAPP 103.5FM "The Apple" in Lake Success, New York, and wrote and sang the jingles for the station. He spoke with DJ Chip Hobart and to the promotion director, John Lassman, who suggested Bon Jovi let WAPP include the song "Runaway" on the station's 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" (which was written in 1982). WAPP worked with WOR-TV (now WWOR-TV) in nearby Secaucus, NJ on a music video show, Rock 9 Videos, for a short time in 1984. The studio musicians who helped record "Runaway"—known as The All Star Review—were guitarist Tim Pierce, keyboardist Roy Bittan, drummer Frankie LaRocka, and bassist Hugh McDonald.
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, both formerly of the band Phantom's Opera. Tapped to play lead guitar was Bon Jovi's neighbor, Dave Sabo ("The Snake"), though he never officially joined the band. He and Jon promised each other that whoever made it first, would help out the other. Sabo later went on to form the group Skid Row. Jon saw and was impressed with hometown guitarist Richie Sambora who was recommended by fellow bassist Alec John Such and drummer Tico Torres. 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 and fellow bassist Alec John Such was also the bassist for the band. Message was originally signed to Led Zeppelin's Swan Song Records label, although the album was never released.
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 that he and Bon Jovi had founded in order to study medicine. While in college, he realized that he wanted to pursue music full-time, and was accepted to Juilliard School, a New York music school. When Bon Jovi called his friend and said that he was putting together a band, and a record deal looked likely, Bryan followed Bon Jovi's lead and gave up his studies.
Bon Jovi and 7800° Fahrenheit (1984–1985)
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 and who was part of the PolyGram company. Because Jon Bon Jovi wanted a group name, Pamela Maher, a friend of Richard Fischer and an employee of Doc McGhee, suggested they call themselves Bon Jovi, following the example of the other famous two-word bands such as Van Halen. This name was chosen instead of the original idea of Johnny Electric. Pamela's suggestion of the name was met with little enthusiasm, but two years later they hit the charts under that name.
With the help of their new manager Doc McGhee they recorded the band's debut album, Bon Jovi, which was released on January 21, 1984. The album included the band's first hit single, "Runaway", reaching top forty on the Billboard Hot 100. The album peaked at number forty-three on the Billboard 200 album chart. The group soon found itself opening for Scorpions in U.S. and for Kiss in Europe.
In 1985, Bon Jovi's second album 7800° Fahrenheit was released. The band released three singles "Only Lonely", "In and Out of Love" and the ballad "Silent Night". The album peaked at number thirty seven on Billboard 200 and certified Gold by RIAA. While the album did not do as well as they'd hoped in terms of sales, it allowed Bon Jovi to get out on the road touring again. In May 1985, Bon Jovi headlined venues in Japan and Europe. At the end of the European tour, the band began a six-month run of U.S. tour dates supporting Ratt. In the midst of that tour they managed to make appearances at the Texas Jam and Castle Donington's Monsters of Rock concerts in England. The band also performed at the very first Farm Aid in 1985.
Slippery When Wet (1986–1987)
After two moderately successful albums, the group changed their approach for their next album and hired professional songwriter Desmond Child as a collaborator. Bruce Fairbairn was chosen as the producer of the album. In early 1986 Bon Jovi moved to Vancouver, Canada to record their third album. The band spent six-months recording the new album. The band decided to name the album "Slippery When Wet" after visiting a strip club in Vancouver.
On August 16, 1986, Slippery When Wet was released. The album reached number one in U.S., where it spent 8 weeks at number one on the Billboard 200 album chart. The first two singles from the album, "You Give Love a Bad Name" and "Livin' on a Prayer", both reached number one on the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart. Slippery When Wet was named the top selling album of 1987 by Billboard "Livin' On A Prayer" won an MTV Video Music Award for Best Stage Performance. The band won an award for Favorite Pop/Rock Band at the American Music Awards and an award for Favorite Rock Group at the People's Choice Awards. When Slippery When Wet was released in August 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 August 1987, the band headlined England's "Monsters of Rock" festival. During their set Dee Snider (Twisted Sister), Bruce Dickinson (Iron Maiden) and Paul Stanley (Kiss) joined the band to perform "We're an American Band". The band ended the year having headlined 130 shows in the "Tour Without End", grossing $28,400,000. Jon Bon Jovi was asked what this breakthrough to worldwide fame meant, to which he answered, "Everything is bigger, and it moves twice as fast. You're recognized twice as often. This is bigger, the whole world gets bigger. You have to sell more records, be huger. You get smarter and you understand the business a little more, so it's more responsibility. You understand it now, and you want to make sure everything goes right".
New Jersey and hiatus (1988–1991)
Determined to prove that the success of Slippery When Wet was not a fluke, Bon Jovi released their fourth effort New Jersey in September 1988. New Jersey peaked at number one in the U.S., Canada, UK, Ireland, New Zealand and Australia. The album produced five Top 10 hits on the Billboard Hot 100, giving Bon Jovi the record for the most Top 10 singles spawned by a hard rock album. Two of the hits, "Bad Medicine" and "I'll Be There for You", managed to reach number one. The album's three other singles "Born to Be My Baby", "Lay Your Hands on Me", and "Living in Sin" reached the top ten. Bon Jovi even made the news when the video for "Living In Sin" was banned by MTV for featuring some too racy romance/sex scenes. After that it was re-edited and MTV put it in heavy rotation.
Bon Jovi mounted another huge worldwide tour that continued throughout 1989 and 1990. They visited more than 22 countries and performed more than 232 shows before it was all over. The personal highpoint for the band was their June 11, 1989 sell-out homecoming at Giants Stadium in New Jersey. In August 1989, the band headed to the Soviet Union for the Moscow Music Peace Festival. Bon Jovi were the first band officially sanctioned by the Soviet government to perform in the Soviet Union and New Jersey became the first U.S. album to be released legally in the U.S.S.R..
In September 1989, Jon Bon Jovi and Richie Sambora performed Livin' On A Prayer and Wanted Dead Or Alive only with two acoustic guitars on the 1989 MTV Video Music Awards. The 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.
The non-stop touring was taking its toll on the band. By the end of the New Jersey tour, Bon Jovi had 16 months of concerts under their belt and the band members were exhausted physically, mentally and emotionally. Finally, following the last tour date in Mexico, and without any clear plans for their future, the band members just went home.
Between 1990 and 1991 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 has 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 projects and showed no desire for making another album.
Disillusioned with the music business, despite all his success, and unhappy with the status quo, in 1991 Jon Bon Jovi fired his management, business advisers, and agents, including his long-time manager, Doc McGhee. Jon took on the quarterbacking responsibilities himself by closing ranks and creating Bon Jovi Management. In October 1991 the band went to a Caribbean island of St. Thomas to discuss plans for the future. They managed to resolve their differences by allowing each member to speak about his feelings without interruption from each other. Upon resolving their issues, they headed back into the Vancouver Little Mountain studios with Bob Rock to work on the band's fifth album in January 1992.
Keep the Faith and Cross Road (1992–1995)
Bon Jovi's fifth studio album Keep the Faith was released in November 1992, representing "the beginning of a new chapter in the history of Bon Jovi" and marking a change in the band's sound and image. The album turned away from heavy drums and wild guitar solos, but instead introduced a more mature sound of Bon Jovi and contained more serious lyrics. The media focused considerable attention on Jon Bon Jovi’s hair. When Jon Bon Jovi cut his hair he made headlines on CNN. To promote Keep The Faith they returned to their roots playing a few dates at the small New Jersey clubs where they had started their career. The band appeared on MTV Unplugged but that was different from the other episodes of MTV Unplugged series. The performance captures Bon Jovi in an intimate, "in the round" experience, performing acoustic and electric renditions of classic hits (Bon Jovi and non-Bon Jovi tracks) and new material from Keep the Faith. The concert was released commercially in 1993 as Keep the Faith: An Evening with Bon Jovi.
The album managed to reach Double Platinum status by the RIAA and produced the Top 10 hit "Bed of Roses" while the title track hit number one on the Mainstream Rock Tracks. Bon Jovi embarked on an extensive international world tour for the album, visiting countries the band had never seen before and headlining stadiums in the South America, Europe, Asia and Australia. They visited 37 countries, performed 177 shows and seen them play to 2.5 million fans on the Keep the Faith Tour/I'll Sleep When I'm Dead Tour.
In October 1994, Bon Jovi released a greatest hits album titled Cross Road, with two new tracks: "Always" and "Someday I'll Be Saturday Night". The first single from the album "Always" became Bon Jovi's highest selling single and stayed on top ten of the Billboard Hot 100 for six months. In the UK, Cross Road became the best-selling album of 1994. That year Bon Jovi won an award for Best Selling Rock Band at the World Music Awards.
That same year, bassist Alec John Such was fired from the band, the first lineup change since Bon Jovi began. Hugh McDonald who was the bassist on "Runaway," unofficially replaced Such as bassist. 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."
It was followed by a hugely successful worldwide tour. In June 1995, Bon Jovi sold out three-nights at London's historical Wembley Stadium. The concerts were documented for Bon Jovi: Live From London.
Bon Jovi (1984)
7800° Fahrenheit (1985)
Slippery When Wet (1986)
New Jersey (1988)
Keep the Faith (1992)
These Days (1995)
Have a Nice Day (2005)
Lost Highway (2007)
The Circle (2009)
What About Now (2013)
This House Is Not for Sale (2016)
Bon Jovi: 2020 (2020)
Jon Bon Jovi – lead vocals, acoustic and rhythm guitars (1983–present)
David Bryan – keyboards, piano, pedal steel guitar, backing and occasional lead vocals (1983–present)
Tico Torres – drums, percussion, backing and occasional lead vocals (1983–present)
Hugh McDonald – bass guitar, backing vocals (unofficial 1994–2016; 2016–present)
Phil X – lead and rhythm guitars, talkbox, backing and occasional lead vocals (substitute 2011, 2013; touring 2013–2016; 2016–present)
Richie Sambora – lead and rhythm guitars, talkbox, backing and occasional lead vocals (1983–2013)
Alec John Such – bass guitar, backing vocals (1983–1994; one-off show in 2001)
Dave Sabo – lead guitar, backing vocals (1983)
Everett Bradley – percussion, backing vocals (2003–2004; 2016–present)
John Shanks – rhythm and lead guitars, backing vocals (2015–present)
Former touring members
Bobby Bandiera – rhythm guitar, backing vocals (2005–2015)
Lorenza Ponce – violin, viola, cello, backing vocals (2005–2009, 2015)
Jeff Kazee – Hammond organ, keyboards, backing vocals (2005–2006; one-off show in 2010)
Kurt Johnston – pedal steel guitar, banjo, mandolin Dobro, backing vocals (2006–2008)
Rich Scanella – drums, backing vocals (2013)
Matt O'Ree – rhythm guitar, backing vocals (2015)