Personalities | Bon Jovi | Eighties | Rock

America’s leading hard rock band in the 1980s, Bon Jovi have broadened their appeal still further by combining their musical aggression with catchy pop songs to achieve a universal appeal.

The band was formed in 1983 in New Jersey by singer Jon Bon Jovi (b. John Francis Bongiovi, 2 March 1962), guitarist Richie Sambora (b. 11 July 1969), keyboard player David Bryan (b. David Bryan Rashbaum, 7 February 1962), bassist Alec John Such (b. 14 November 1956) and drummer Tico Torres (b. Hector Torres, 7 October 1953).

Runaway Success

As teenagers, Jon Bon Jovi and Bryan played in various local bands. After leaving high school Jon went to work with his cousin, noted record producer Tony Bongiovi, at New York’s Power Plant where he wrote and recorded a demo of ‘Runaway’ that picked up radio play in New Jersey. He signed a deal with Mercury Records and recruited the other band members.

Bon Jovi (1984) stalled just outside the US Top 40 and ‘Runaway’ was a minor hit. 7800 Fahrenheit (1985) peaked just inside the Top 40 and made the UK Top 30 following a British tour. Recruiting songwriter Desmond Child (of Aerosmith and Kiss) and producer Bruce Fairburn (of Blue Oyster Cult) they recorded their make-or-break album, Slippery When Wet (1986). It stormed to the top of the US charts, propelled by two No. 1 singles – ‘You Give Love A Bad Name’ and ‘Livin’ On A Prayer’ (both co-written by Child). In the UK it reached No. 6 and stayed in the charts for two years.

They repeated the formula with even greater success on New Jersey (1988). It was a No. 1 album in the UK and the US where it topped the charts for four weeks, providing five Top 10 singles, including two No. 1s: ‘Bad Medicine’ (co-written by Child) and ‘I’ll Be There For You’.

The band capitalized with a gruelling American and international touring schedule that included headlining the UK Monsters of Rock Festival at Castle Donington in 1987 and the Moscow Music Peace Festival in 1989. In 1990, the band took a break that turned into an extended hiatus. Jon Bon Jovi wrote the soundtrack to the Young Guns II movie. The album Blaze Of Glory (1990) reached No. 3 in the US while the title track went to No. 1. With Sambora also recording a solo album, Stranger In This Town (1991), rumours grew that the band had split up.

Keeping The Faith

But in 1992 they reassembled to record their first album for four years. Keep The Faith (1992) updated their sound with producer Bob Rock (of Metallica, Mötley Crüe and Dave Lee Roth) while the band kept faith with Child who co-wrote the title track. While there were no major hit singles, the album reached No. 5 in the US and No. 1 in the UK where it stayed in the charts for more than a year.

Crossroads (1994) was a greatest hits collection that was a worldwide...

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Source: The Definitive Illustrated Encyclopedia of Rock, general editor Michael Heatley


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