The Bon Jovi Experience – A Review of the Hulu Docuseries “The Bon Jovi Experience”

When it comes to big-haired ’80s rockers that have stood the test of time, there are few bigger than Bon Jovi. The New Jersey band forged a global empire over the course of two decades, selling more than 120 million albums and selling out stadiums worldwide with their arena-rock juggernaut that started with 1986’s breakthrough album, Slippery When Wet. In late 2017, the group was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, adding a well-deserved accolade to their already impressive resumé.

Jon Bon Jovi, 62, flashes his unblemished heartthrob smile and runs his hands through his long, tousled ‘do, which even in its advanced age retains its famously run-your-hands-through-it feel. While he may have grown up in the excesses of Eighties hair metal, he has always maintained his reputation for clean living and steered clear of drugs, sex and the other trappings of rock ‘n’ roll that would have left him a shell of his former self.

He takes a sip of water from a water bottle as he sits down in a hotel room, the first day of shooting for a four-part Hulu docuseries. The film, helmed by Deepak Chopra (whose previous work includes the 2021 Tom Brady docuseries Man in the Arena), charts the band’s rise from their humble beginnings in Sayreville, NJ, to the arena-rock juggernaut that made them household names. It also delves into the tumultuous era of the band’s evolution and lineup changes — from Jon Bon Jovi firing his managers, business advisers and agent Doc McGhee in 1991 to guitarist Richie Sambora departing for good in 2013.

This fractious period is what gives the documentary its teeth. It’s also what allows Bon Jovi to laugh, though with a hint of sadness. Two years after he collapsed on stage in Nashville, unable to sing because of throat issues, the band is still working to restore his voice to its previous glory.

As the documentary progresses, each member of the band opens up to Chopra, with a mix of candid anecdotes and rare, behind-the-scenes footage. Interview subjects include the current lineup of Bon Jovi (singer Jon, keyboardist David Bryan, drummer Tico Torres and bassist Hugh McDonald) as well as past members such as songwriter Desmond Child, drummer John Panozzo and Sambora, whose departure served as one of the narrative’s central tensions.

There are some hiccups along the way, but the end result is a fascinating look at a band that has been through almost everything and come out the other side. It’s an incredibly moving and compelling piece of television that gives Bon Jovi fans, who have waited to hear their hero return to the stage for more than three years, a window into their favorite band in their most vulnerable moments. And in a world where music can sometimes be disposable, that’s something to behold.