THIS ROCK LEGEND’S IRRESISTIBLE LICKS COME TO MANHATTAN AND NEWARK
BY JON DOMENICK • PHOTO BY NORMAN JEAN ROY
News in April of the induction of classic rock titans Bon Jovi into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame arrived just in time to celebrate the band’s current This House is Not for Sale Tour.
While founder and leader John Francis Bongiovi Jr., born in Perth Amboy in 1962, believed he’d make it as a rock star, it took time to convince the record companies and world at large. The musician began hanging out at local clubs in his teens. He was soon playing those venues with early bands before founding Bon Jovi in the 1980s.
Early bandmates included keyboardist David Bryan, whom he met in high school, and drummer Tico Torres, who left another promising group at the time to take a chance.
“Runaway,” Bon Jovi’s first hit single, caught fire on local radio, and recording contracts followed. A self-titled debut album came out in 1984 and quickly went gold. The band gained acclaim as the opening act for Kiss, Judas Priest, and others, and Bon Jovi’s third disc, Slippery When Wet, went gold and platinum, propelled by hits “Livin’ on a Prayer” and “Wanted Dead or Alive.”
Along the way, band members diversified. Bryan, a songwriter, composer, and lyricist, has won Tony Awards for his work on Broadway’s Memphis and off Broadway’s Toxic Avenger. Jon took up acting, with a recurring role in TV’s Ally McBeal and parts in films like Moonlight and Valentino and The Leading Man. In 2004, Jon Bon Jovi became a majority owner of the short lived Arena Football League’s Philadelphia Soul. He was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2009, and in 2012, was ranked 50th in Billboard magazine’s “Power 100” for his music business clout.
As the band continued garnering fame and riches, Jon Bon Jovi’s wife, Dorothea famously his high school sweetheart was contemplating ways to give back. The result was the Jon Bon Jovi Soul Foundation and its mission to fund “innovative community efforts to break the cycle of poverty and homelessness.”
In addition to building homes, the non profit’s JBJ Soul Kitchens, successfully operating in Red Bank and Toms River, has served over 80,000 meals in a unique arrangement its menu has no prices. Those who can afford to pay make donations; those who cannot volunteer their time. The motto is “dignity and respect are always on the menu.”
The This House is Not for Sale Tour, featuring selections from the band’s 2016 album of the same name, brings the rockers to Newark’s Prudential Center April 7th and 8th, and Madison Square Garden May 9th and 10th.
In a recent appearance on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, bandleader Jon Batiste asked for advice on writing hit anthems. Bon Jovi revealed his musical mantra: “Don’t bore us, get to the chorus.” Of the band’s Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction, he added, “It truly does mean a lot…to be in the same building as the greatest of the greats.”
Jon Bon Jovi