A rocker that straddles the line between hard rock and pop, bon jovi is as American as they come. Having sold over 130 million albums in over 35 years, the band has become one of the most internationally renowned acts of all time. But before that happened, the band members were New Jersey teenagers who played in bar bands, mopped floors and worked as go-fers at Power Station, the infamous New York recording studio co-founded by Jon’s cousin.
The band was originally named Johnny Electric, but changed their name to Bon Jovi when the drummer and bassist left to form their own group. Jon called up keyboard player David Bryan, who he had known since high school and drummer Tico Torres, both of whom had previously performed with him in his band Message. He also recruited bassist Alec John Such and lead guitarist Richie Sambora.
Bon Jovi’s first hit was the hard rockin’ single “Runaway” in 1984, but it was the album Slippery When Wet in 1986 that boosted them to international fame. The album and the band’s subsequent tour was a huge success. The band topped the charts in their native United States, Canada, Australia and England, and toured extensively.
While many of the band’s early recordings may sound dated today, the more rock-oriented ones like “Blood Money” and the opulent “Santa Fe” hold up well. The band regrouped for 1996’s Destination Anywhere and 1997’s Crush, then again for 2002’s Bounce.
In the late 1990s, Bon Jovi expanded their horizons, with Jon starring in a handful of movies (Moonlight and Valentino) and guest appearing on Ally McBeal until the show’s cancellation in 2002. He also became the majority owner of the Arena Football League’s Philadelphia Soul, and founded the Jon Bon Jovi Soul Foundation in 2006. The foundation combats issues that push families into economic despair.
After the terrorist attacks of September 11, Jon and Richie quickly recorded Public Service Announcements, participated in a live telethon for the Red Cross and held two homecoming concerts in their hometowns to raise funds for families close to their homes. In addition, they raised money at a drive-in for Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden and donated to Republican Ohio gubernatorial nominee Jim Renacci.