Who Is Jon Bon Jovi?
Jon Bon Jovi knew in his early teens that he wanted to be a rock star. He formed the band Bon Jovi in the 1980s, which became popular for its power ballads, soaring guitar riffs and well-crafted melodies. Jon Bon Jovi has also acted in such films as The Leading Man and was a recurring character on TV's Ally McBeal. Today he continues to perform with his legendary band Bon Jovi. Their recent albums include What About Now (2013), Burning Bridges (2015) and This House Is Not For Sale (2016).
Early Life and Career
John Francis Bongiovi Jr. was born on March 2, 1962, in Perth Amboy, New Jersey. He was raised by his parents, Carol and John Bongiovi, a hairdresser. By his early teens, he was hanging out at local clubs, convinced that one day he would be a rock star.
Idolizing local rising stars such as Bruce Springsteen and the Asbury Jukes, Jon was playing in clubs by the time he was 16. He met keyboardist David Bryan in high school, and the two formed a ten-piece rhythm and blues band called Atlantic City Expressway. Jon also performed with bands called The Rest, The Lechers and John Bongiovi and the Wild Ones.
In 1980, Jon recorded his first single, Runaway, at his cousin's studio, with back-up by studio musicians. A local radio station included the song on a compilation tape, and it began to get frequent airplay. The success of Runaway got Jon noticed, and he realized that he'd need more than session players if he wanted to capitalize on his success.
Jon called David, who in turn tapped Alec John Such, Tico Torres and guitarist Richie Sambora. During a show in New York in 1983, the band caught the attention of record executive Derek Shulman, who signed them to PolyGram. It was Shulman who anglicized John Bongiovi's name to Bon Jovi.
Albums and Songs
'Bon Jovi,' '7800° Fahrenheit'
The group's self-titled debut came out on January 21, 1984. Filled with their now-signature power ballads underscored by soaring guitar riffs and well-crafted melodies, the album went gold. In April 1985 Bon Jovi released the follow-up album, 7800° Fahrenheit, which was popular with fans but less so with critics, who were turned off by the hard-rock band's manicured image and formulaic style.
Opening for the Scorpions, Kiss and Judas Priest on tour helped Bon Jovi build up a considerable fan base that appreciated the group's rugged, soulful collection of songs about how tough it was to be a teenager.
'Slippery When Wet'
The band responded to tepid critical praise with its third album, Slippery When Wet, which went gold and platinum simultaneously within six weeks of its release. Powered by songs like "Livin' on a Prayer" and "Wanted Dead or Alive," the album sold in excess of 14 million copies, putting it in the same league as Michael Jackson's Thriller.
Going Solo: 'Young Guns II' and 'Blaze of Glory'
After the band went into temporary retirement in 1989, Jon concentrated on his solo career and appeared in his first movie, Young Guns II, for which he won he won a Golden Globe for Best Song, Blaze of Glory.
'Keep the Faith,' 'Destination Anywhere,' 'Crush'
In 1994, the commercial incentive to return to Bon Jovi proved too hard to resist, and the band released another album, Keep The Faith. Jon enjoyed further solo success with 1997's Destination Anywhere. The band regrouped two years later to record the Grammy-nominated album, Crush, and again in 2002 for Bounce.
'Lost Highway,' 'Burning Bridges,' 'This House Is Not For Sale'
Bon Jovi has released several more records together, including Lost Highway (2007), The Circle (2009) and What About Now (2013). In 2015, they debuted Burning Bridges, the first Bon Jovi album released after Richie Sambora left. The group followed in 2016 with This House Is Not For Sale, their sixth album to reach the top spot on the Billboard 200.
Hall of Fame and New Music
In late 2017, marking an impressive journey that produced an estimated 130 million records sold, Bon Jovi was elected to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
Not ready to retire their instruments just yet, the band released the single "Unbroken" in November 2019 and followed with "Limitless" in February 2020, ahead of the anticipated release of the album Bon Jovi: 2020.
Films and TV Shows
In the '90s, Jon stretched his talents by nurturing an acting career with starring roles in Moonlight and Valentino and The Leading Man. He also appeared in a handful of independent films, including Pay It Forward and U-571. On television, he was a regular guest star on Ally McBeal until the series finale in 2002.
Business and Foundation
Bon Jovi also made headlines in 2004 when he became a co-founder and a majority owner of the Arena Football League's Philadelphia Soul. (He later parted ways with the team.) The following year, he and the band donated $1 million to Oprah Winfrey's Angel Network.
In 2006, Bon Jovi established what is now called the Jon Bon Jovi Soul Foundation. The organization helps fund "innovative community efforts to break the cycle of poverty and homelessness," according to its website.
Jon married Dorothea Hurley, a karate instructor, in 1989. They have four children, Stephanie, Jesse, Jacob and Romeo Jon.
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