Bon Jovi is an American rock band formed in 1983 in Sayreville, New Jersey. It consists of singer Jon Bon Jovi, keyboardist David Bryan, drummer Tico Torres, guitarist Phil X, and bassist Hugh McDonald. Previous bassist Alec John Such was dismissed in 1994, and longtime guitarist and co-songwriter Richie Sambora left in 2013.
In 1984 and 1985, Bon Jovi released their first two albums and their debut single “Runaway” managed to crack the Top 40. In 1986, the band achieved widespread success and global recognition with their third album, Slippery When Wet, which sold over 20 million copies and included three Top 10 singles, two of which reached No. 1 (“You Give Love a Bad Name” and “Livin’ on a Prayer“) Their fourth album, New Jersey (1988), was also very successful, selling over 10 million copies and featuring five Top 10 singles (a record for a hard rock album), two of which reached No. 1 (“Bad Medicine” and “I’ll Be There for You“). After the band toured and recorded extensively during the late 1980s, culminating in the 1988–90 New Jersey Tour, Jon Bon Jovi and Richie Sambora released successful solo albums in 1990 and 1991, respectively.
In 1992, the band returned with the double-platinum Keep the Faith. This was followed by their biggest-selling and longest-charting single “Always” (1994) and the album These Days (1995), which proved to be a bigger hit in Europe than in the United States, producing four Top Ten singles in the United Kingdom. Following a second hiatus, their 2000 album Crush, particularly the lead single, “It’s My Life“, successfully introduced the band to a younger audience. The band followed up with Bounce in 2002.
The platinum albums Have a Nice Day (2005) and Lost Highway (2007) saw the band incorporate elements of country music into some of the songs, including the 2006 single “Who Says You Can’t Go Home“, which won the band a Grammy Award and became the first single by a rock band to reach No. 1 on the country charts. The Circle (2009) marked a return to the band’s rock sound.
The band also enjoyed great success touring, with both the 2005–06 Have a Nice Day Tour and 2007–08 Lost Highway Tour ranking among the Top 20 highest-grossing concert tours of the 2000s and the 2013 Because We Can Tour ranking among the highest-grossing of the 2010s. The band continues to tour and record, with their most recent album This House Is Not for Sale and its associated tour encompassing 2016–19.
Bon Jovi has released 13 studio albums, six compilations and three live albums. They have sold more than 100 million records worldwide, making them one of the bestselling American rock bands, 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, and into the US Rock and Roll Hall Of Fame in 2018. The band received the Award of Merit at the American Music Awards in 2004, Jon Bon Jovi and Richie Sambora were inducted into Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2009.
Jon Bon Jovi began playing music in 1975, at the age of 13, playing piano and guitar with his first band, Raze. At 16, Jon 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 clubs such as the Fast Lane and opening for local acts. By 1980, he had formed another band, the Rest, and opened up for New Jersey acts such as Southside Johnny and the Asbury Jukes. Also in 1980, Jon recorded his first single, “Runaway” in his cousin’s studio, backed up by studio musicians. The song was played by a local radio station on a compilation tape.
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. Jon 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, Jon visited a local radio station WAPP 103.5FM “The Apple” in Lake Success, New York to write and sing the jingles for the station. He spoke with DJ Chip Hobart and to the promotion director, John Lassman, who suggested Jon let WAPP include the song “Runaway” on the station’s compilation album of local homegrown talent. Jon was reluctant, but eventually gave them the song, which he had rerecorded in 1982 (following a rough early recording in 1981) with local studio musicians whom he designated The All Star Review—guitarist Tim Pierce, keyboardist Roy Bittan, drummer Frankie LaRocka, and bassist Hugh McDonald.
After two moderately successful albums, the group changed their approach and hired professional songwriter Desmond Child as a collaborator. Bruce Fairbairn was chosen to produce and, in early 1986, Bon Jovi moved to Vancouver, Canada to spend six months recording a third album. They named it Slippery When Wet after visiting a strip club in Vancouver.
“We were getting a lot of hassle from everyone around us to make the perfect third album,” Jon Bon Jovi recalled. “We kept being told that it had to sell, or the band’s career would stall.”
On August 16, 1986, Slippery When Wet was released. It spent eight weeks atop the Billboard 200. The first two singles from the album, “You Give Love a Bad Name” and “Livin’ on a Prayer“, both hit number one on the Billboard Hot 100.
Slippery… was named 1987’s top-selling album 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, they headlined England’s Monsters of Rock festival. During their set, Dee Snider, Bruce Dickinson and Paul Stanley guested 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. Asked what this breakthrough to worldwide fame meant, Jon Bon Jovi said, “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”.
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. 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 released legally in the U.S.S.R..
In September 1989, Jon Bon Jovi and Sambora performed “Livin’ On A Prayer” and “Wanted Dead Or Alive” with only acoustic guitars on the 1989 MTV Video Music Awards. The performance has been acknowledged as the inspiration for the MTV Unplugged series and a catalyst for the subsequent popularity of the unplugged movement in pop music.
The exhaustion of recording Slippery When Wet and New Jersey back to back with highly paced world tours took its toll. By the end of the New Jersey tour, Bon Jovi had 16 months of concerts under their belt and were exhausted physically, mentally and emotionally. Following the final tour date in Mexico, without any clear plans for their future, the members just went home. The band has since stated that there were few if any goodbyes between them. During the time they took off from the scene, the band retreated to their own projects and showed no desire for making another album.