The Eighties Club
The Politics and Pop Culture of the 1980s
A Decade in the Life
of
Bon Jovi

Jon Bon Jovi was born John Francis Bongiovi on 2 March 1962 in Ferth Amboy, New Jersey. He was playing in garage bands by the time he was in junior high. At Sayreville High School he met David Bryan (born David Rashbaum, 7 February 1962 in Edisom, NJ.), and they joined the R&B cover band Atlantic City Expressway until Bryan moved to New York to attend the Julliard School of Music. Jon Bon Jovi also went to New York City, and worked at the Power Station recording studios, run by his cousin Tony. "For 50 bucks a week for two years," said Jon, "I slept on the floor in his place and learned about the music business." He got his break when Billy Squier agreed to produce a demo tape. The song "Runaway," from that tape, was played on local radio. With Bryan on keyboards, session musician Richie Sambora (b. 11 July 1959) on guitar, Tico Torres (b. 7 October 1953) on the drums, and Alex John Such (b. 14 November 1956), formerly of Message (as was Sambora), playing bass, Jon Bon Jovi launched the band that bears his name. By mid-1983, Bon Jovi had secured a recording contract with Polygram, and had opened for Eddie Money and ZZ Top. Committed to the band's success, Jon Bon Jovi turned down the lead role in the film Footloose that same year. That success would come with their third album, Slippery When Wet, which would propel Bon Jovi to the first rank of hard rock. Produced by Bruce Fairbairn, who had worked with Loverboy and Honeymoon Suite, and featuring collaborative, radio-oriented efforts with outside writer Desmond Child, the album was carefully crafted for maximum commercial appeal, and ultimately would sell 13 million copies.


April 1984
"Runaway," which has been included in New York City radio station WAPP's Homegrown compilation album of unsigned acts, becomes the band's first single and climbs to US#39. The debut album Bon Jovi is released; it will reach US#43 and UK#71.
July 1984
"She Don't Know Me" peaks at US#48.
October 1984
A performance during the band's UK tour is broadcast on BBC Radio 1.
May 1985
7800 Degrees Fahrenheit becomes the band's first gold album, climbing it to UK#28 and US#37. "Only Lonely" climbs to US#54.
August 1985
"In And Out Of Love" stalls at US#69, while "Hardest Part Is The Night" becomes the band's debut British single, peaking at UK#68.
September 1986
"You Give Love A Bad Name," written by Bon Jovi, Sambora and Desmond Child, soars to UK#14.
October 1986
Slippery When Wet, rockets to US#1, where it will remain for eight weeks. By the end of 1987 it will sell eight million copies, making it one of the decade's bestselling rock albums. (In 1995, the RIAA certifies that 12 million copies of the album have been sold.)
November 1986
"You Give Love A Bad Name" climbs to US#1, becoming the band's first million-selling single and remaining at the top of the singles chart for four weeks. Slippery When Wet climbs to UK#6.
December 1986
"Livin' On A Prayer," also written by the team of Bon Jovi, Sambora and Child, peaks at UK#4. Bon Jovi returns to the album chart at US#77.
January 1987
On the strength of "Livin' On A Prayer," Slippery When Wet returns to the top of the album chart in the US, where it will remain an additional seven weeks.
February 1987
"Livin' On A Prayer" makes it to US#1 and stays at the top for three weeks.
April 1987
"Wanted Dead Or Alive" peaks at UK#13; by June it will have climbed to US#7.
August 1987
"Never Say Goodbye" goes to UK #21. The band headlines the annual "Monsters of Rock" festival at Castle  Donington in Leicester.
September 1987
Bon Jovi wins Best Stage Performance for "Livin' On A Prayer" at the 4th Annual MTV Video Music Awards at Universal City, CA. (The band is nominated for two other awards.)
December 1987
Bon Jovi's "Tour Without End" has grossed over $28 million for 130 dates.
January 1988
The band wins Favorite Band, Duo Or Group (Pop/Rock) at the 15th Annual American Music Awards in Los Angeles.
April 1988
The Breakout video sells over 100,000 copies and is certified multi-platinum. The band's manager, Doc McGee, is convicted on charges arising from the smuggling of 40,000 pounds of marijuana into the U.S. in 1983. He is fined, receives a suspended prison sentence, does community service, and continues to manage Bon Jovi.
October 1988
New Jersey soars to US#1, where it will stay for four weeks. It also makes UK#1. Like Slippery When Wet, it will quickly go multi-platinum, selling over six million copies. "Bad Medicine," written by Bon Jovi, Sambora and Child,  peaks at UK#17; in November it will top the US singles chart.
December 1988
"Born To Be My Baby" climbs to UK#22. In a couple of months it will peak at US#3.
March 1989
MTV launches a contest to give away Jon Bon Jovi's childhood home in Sayreville, NJ.
April 1989
Jon Bon Jovi marries childhood girlfriend Dorothea Hurley in Las Vegas.
May 1989
"I'll Be There For You," penned by Bon Jovi and Sambora, reaches US#1 and UK#18. Having sold over 200,000 copies, the Slippery When Wet video is certified multi-platinum.
July 1989
"Lay Your Hands On Me" climbs to US#7.
August 1989
New Jersey is released in the U.S.S.R. and the band headlines the Moscow Music Peace Festival at Lenin Stadium, joined by the Scorpions, Cinderella, Motley Crue and others. The proceeds are donated to programs fighting drug and alcohol abuse in the Soviet Union.
September 1989
"Lay Your Hands On Me" peaks at UK#18. Bon Jovi and Sambora perform an acoustic version of "Wanted Dead Or Alive" at the 6th Annual MTV Video Music Awards. The performance inspires network executives to launch the "MTV Unplugged" series.
December 1989
"Living In Sin" makes it to US#9 and UK#35. Bon Jovi performs on the hard-rock compilation album Stairway To Heaven/Highway To Hell, proceeds of which go to the Make A Difference Foundation -Rockers Against Drug and Alcohol Abuse.


Bon Jovi (Vertigo, 1984)
Runaway
Roulette
She Don't Know Me
Shot Through The Heart
Love Lies
Breakout
Burning For Love
Come Back
Get Ready

7800 Degrees Fahrenheit (Vertigo, 1985)
In And Out Of Love
The Price Of Love
Only Lonely
King Of The Mountain
Silent Night
Tokyo Road
The Hardest Part Is The Night
Always Run To You
To The Fire
Secret Dreams

"7800 Degrees Fahrenheit was greeted with cynicism by the media, which was already reticent at the prospect of the band's manicured image and formularized heavy rock. A mediocre album only fueled their scorn."
The Virgin Encyclopedia of Eighties Music

Slippery When Wet (Vertigo, 1986)
Let It Rock
You Give Love A Bad Name
Livin' On A Prayer
Social Disease
Wanted Dead Or Alive
Raise Your Hands
Without Love
I'd Die For You
Never Say Goodbye
Wild In The Streets

"On Slippery When Wet, Bon Jovi sounds like bad fourth-generation metal, a smudgy Xerox of Quiet Riot."
Jimmy Guterman, Rolling Stone (486)

"Slippery When Wet has sold 13 million copies, and the temptation to repeat a tried-and-true formula evidently proved too great. Besides echoes of that album, New Jersey has smatterings of Def Leppard, Van Halen, Mellencamp and, of course, the Boss. Jon Bon Jovi is brilliant ... at what he does. New Jersey has all the virtues and drawbacks of a popular record, hitting all the marks yet remaining thoroughly unidiosyncratic."
Michael Azzerad, Rolling Stone (538)


In 1989, 18-year-old David K. Pearsall of Manchester, NH was charged with stealing Richie Sambora's $2,000 Kramer guitar at a Riverfront Park concert.

Jon Bon Jovi appeared in the 1990 film Young Guns II, for which he wrote the soundtrack. The main theme, "Blaze Of Glory," reaches UK#2 and US#1, becoming Jon's first solo hit. "Blaze Of Glory" would earn him a Golden Globe for Best Original Song and an American Music Award for Best Pop/Rock Single. It would also be nominated for an Academy Award.

A riot broke out and several people were injured when a thousand fans without tickets forced their way into a Bon Jovi concert in Jakarta, Indonesia on 6 May 1995.

The band was named Best International Group at the 1996 BRIT Awards in London.

In 1996, drummer Tico Torres married supermodel Eva Herzigova in a Seabright, NJ ceremony.

Kevin Bacon, Whoopi Goldberg and Demi Moore appeared in a 35-minute film promoting Jon Bon Jovi's solo album Destination Anywhere in 1997. In November of that same year, Jon was named Best Male Act at the 4th Annual MTV Europe Music Awards held in Rotterdam, Holland. The following year he would also win BRIT and Echo Awards for Best International Male Artist.