Bon Jovi in later years. From left to right: Richie Sambora, Jon Bon Jovi, David Bryan and Tico Torres.
"I've been everywhere Bon Jovi
Still I'm standing tall
I've seen a million faces
And I've rocked them all!"
—"Wanted Dead or Alive"
is an American hard rock band from Sayreville, New Jersey. Fronted by lead singer and namesake Jon Bon Jovi, the group originally achieved large-scale success in the 1980s. Over the past 25 years, Bon Jovi has sold over 120 million albums worldwide, including 36 million in the United States alone.
Bon Jovi formed in 1983 with John Francis Bongiovi Jr. aka Jon Bon Jovi, David Bryan, Alec John Such, and Tico Torres. Richie Sambora joined shortly afterwards. Other than the departure of Such in 1994 (which pared the line-up down to a quartet. His replacement - Hugh McDonald - has never become an official member), and Sambora in 2013, the line-up has remained more or less stable. After two moderately successful albums in 1984 and 1985, the band scored big with Slippery When Wet from 1986 and New Jersey from 1988, which sold a combined 19 million copies in the U.S. alone, charted eight Top Ten hits (including four number one hits), and launched the band into global super stardom.
After non-stop touring, the band went on hiatus after the New Jersey Tour in 1990, during which time Jon Bon Jovi and Richie Sambora both released successful solo albums. In 1992, the band returned with the double platinum Keep the Faith and has since created a string of platinum albums throughout the 1990's and 2000's.
Principal Members (Founding members in bold, current members in italic):
- David Bryan - keyboard, piano, vocals (1983–present)
- Jon Bon Jovi - lead vocals, guitar, harmonica (1983–present)
- Richie Sambora - guitar, vocals, talkbox (1983–2013)
- Alec John Such - bass, vocals (1983–1994)
- Tico Torres - drums, percussion, vocals (1983–present)
Studio and Live Discography:
- 1984 - Bon Jovi
- 1985 - 7800° Fahrenheit
- 1986 - Slippery When Wet
- 1988 - New Jersey
- 1992 - Keep The Faith
- 1995 - These Days
- 2000 - Crush
- 2001 - One Wild Night Live 1985–2001 note
- 2002 - Bounce
- 2005 - Have A Nice Day
- 2007 - Lost Highway
- 2008 - Lost Highway: The Concert
- 2009 - The Circle
- 2012 - Inside Out
- 2013 - What About Now
"You give tropes a bad name":
- Anti-Love Song: "You Give Love A Bad Name".
Shot through the heart
And you're to blame
- Aerosol Flamethrower - Used in the music video of "Always."
- Audience Participation Song: "Livin' on a Prayer" and "You Give Love a Bad Name".
- "Wanted Dead or Alive" became this as well, with Jon letting the crowd sing the entire first verse.
- "I'll Be There For You" has the audience singing "woooaaaahhh"s.
- "Who Says You Can't Go Home" has Jon repeating "It's Alright!" along with the audience. Sometimes a fan will be asked to sing this with Jon.
- Auto Erotica: Referenced in "Never Say Goodbye" and "Wild in the Streets," both from Slippery When Wet.
We were cruising to the back-beat
Oh yeah, Making love in the back-seats
Wild In the Streets
- Bawdy Song: "Bad Medicine"
- Big Heroic Run: The "It's My Life" video.
- Call Back: "It's My Life" explicitly refers to Tommy and Gina from "Livin' on a Prayer".
- So does "99 in the Shade".
- Careful With That Axe: Can be heard throughout the band's discography. "Keep the Faith" takes it Up to Eleven.
- Daddy's Girl: Mentioned in the chorus of "Runaway"
- Dark Is Not Evil: "Good Guys Don't Always Wear White".
- "Days of the Week" Song : "Someday I'll Be Saturday Night."
- Dude, Where's My Respect?: This is mostly a fan reaction to Hugh McDonald (who replaced Alec as bassist) not being made an official member, not appearing in most videos, not appearing in publicity photos, not being brought up to take a bow at the end of concerts etc. despite now being in the band longer than Alec was. McDonald himself doesn't seem to have an issue with it and the band themselves have said it's not a knock against Hugh but just that they agreed to never officially replace Alec when he left.
- Dying Town: Dry County.
- Egocentric Team Naming: named after Jon Bon Jovi.
- Epic Rocking: "Dry County" is nearly 10 minutes long.
- Foil: "Who Says You Can't Go Home" to "Born to Run".
- Genre Shift: "Who Says You Can't Go Home" is a lot softer than their normal vibe, which is why it placed higher on Adult Contemporary Charts than the Hot 100. And then they released a duet with Jennifer Nettles, and that version hit #1 on the country charts.
- Lost Highway received criticism (despite selling well) from fans for being largely a country album. The album featured a lot of stripped down songs, string arrangements, and duets with country artists such as LeAnn Rimes and Big & Rich.
- Greatest Hits Album: Two of them, Cross Road and Greatest Hits, released in 1994 and 2010, respectively.
- Hair Metal: Until the Important Haircut.
- Heavy Meta: "Blame It on the Love of Rock & Roll".
- High School Sweethearts: Jon and his wife Dorothea. They got married in 1989 and are still together.
- Important Haircut: Jon cut his long hair short when Keep the Faith was released.
- Intercourse with You: "Let's Make It Baby," an out-take from New Jersey.
- Last of His Kind: "Last Man Standing" ("His kind" in this case referring to "real" musicians as opposed to pop/hip-hop/etc. performers.)
- Listing Cities: "Raise Your Hands."
Raise your hands
From New York to Chicago
Raise your hands
From New Jersey to Tokyo
- Long Runner Line Up: Type 1 + Type 2. The band has had two change since their first album in 1984: bassist Alec John Such left in 1994, and they became a quartet (officially without a bassist although Hugh McDonald played on every album since These Days and appears with them live) until Ritchie Sambora left in 2013. (only changes being for live concerts when drummer Tico Torres couldn't attend) And while Jon Bon Jovi recorded a demo with McDonald and other guys before forming the band, the closest one got to being The Pete Best in Bon Jovi is Jon's neighbour Dave Sabo, who was his original choice to play guitar but went on to form Skid Row instead.
- Love Is A Drug: "Bad Medicine".
- Lyrical Cold Open: "Shot through the heart! And you're to blame! Darlin' you give love a bad name!"
- "In and Out of Love" begins with this, repeating the title four times before the drums kick in.
- Lyrical Dissonance: "Someday I'll Be Saturday Night": all the characters mentioned within are either desperate, suicidal, abused, or all three, but eventually they will be like a Saturday Night. This could either mean they they will be jubilant and free of oppression (indicated by the bouncy and joyous tune and vocals), or it could mean that they'll be like Saturday Night in terms of it being at the end of the week, all the bad stuff having happened and no more is going to come. These people are essentially looking forward to the sweet release of death!
- "Always" is a love song with the singer declaring his ever lasting dedication to his one true love. The release video, along with the correct interpretation of the lyrics, makes it perfectly clear that he has been abandoned and is pining for someone he can never have again.
- "One Wild Night" seems like a description of a great night out partying. Listen carefully, and it turns out that the singer is actually some kind of lecherous predator slipping into a crowd with the express intent of fleecing rubes for their money ("Take 'im for a coupla weeks pay") suggesting sexual favours from their victims' girlfriend in lieu of an unaffordable monetary debt ("If ya lose this roll/ I'll take ya girlfriend home/ Well, alright!"). One could even go so far as to make a link between the lines "Blinded by the moonlight/ Twenty-four hours of midnight/ I stepped into the Twilight Zone" and being rendered blind and mindless by a drug or alcohol induced fugue...
- Memetic Mutation: An in-universe example. The smiley face in the music video for "Have a Nice Day".
- Mondegreen: Jon's pronunciation of "like Frankie said, I did it my way" in "It's My Life" has been misheard by some fans as "like Frank and Sid, I did it my way". This would have been a Double Meaning (since the Sex Pistols recorded a cover of Sinatra's "My Way" with Sid Vicious "singing"), except Jon has gone on record clarifying that it really is "like Frankie said".
- Music At Sporting Events: "This Is Our House" was primarily designed for this; the National Rugby League in Australia used it as their theme song for a time, and the New Jersey Devils started playing it for goals in October 2013 (ironically, this triggered a campaign demanding that they put back Gary Glitter's "Rock and Roll". And they were booing it too! In retrospect, New Jersey's hockey fans seem to be hostile to their state's own music.)
- My Horse Is a Motorbike: "Wanted Dead or Alive"
- New Sound Album: After having had a country hit before ("Who Says You Can't Go Home?") and having previously recorded songs tinged with a country and western vibe/themes, Lost Highway was the group's attempt to make a full-fledged country album, even collaborating with country artists Big And Rich and LeAnn Rimes on two songs.
- Another case that maybe justified as the line-up underwent a slight change and lead singer/writer Jon aged and mellowed a little - and they went after the changing tastes of ladies more their own age (Hair Metal always being, in the end, all about the ladies)... but, the stylistic shift experienced between the classic but ironically titled Keep The Faith, and newer, more pop-oriented, and mushier Crush (with "These Days" as a confused, halfway turning point, and "Crossroads" being a sort of "this is the Best Of the OLD Bon Jovi, now watch as we change it all") is still a heck of a jolt for male fans who enjoyed the heavier, more traditional rock flavour of their first 15 or so years. Those two start the Broken Base, with women (stereotypically) liking the new phase and rockers (of both genders) the old one.
- Past in the Rear-View Mirror: "Lost Highway".
- Performance Video: "You Give Love A Bad Name," "Blood on Blood," "Lay Your Hands on Me," "When We Were Beautiful," "No Apologies," "What About Now," and the second half of "Livin' On A Prayer."
- Power Ballad: Quite a few of them - "I'll Be There For You," "Bed of Roses," "(You Want To) Make a Memory," "This Ain't A Love Song," "Always," "Wanted Dead Or Alive," etc.
- Rhyming with Itself: "Wanted Dead Or Alive" does this:
I walk these streets, a loaded six string on my back
I play for keeps, 'cause I might not make it back
- Rockstar Song: "Wanted Dead Or Alive."
- "The Reason You Suck" Speech: "You Give Love A Bad Name"
- Religion Rant Song: "Hey God", one of the band's Darker and Edgier moments, falls squarely under this trope.
- Reports of My Death Were Greatly Exaggerated: On December 19, 2011, rumours spread on the Internet that Jon Bon Jovi had died. It got so widespread that news sites had to post articles confirming that he was not dead.
- Rooftop Concert: At the rooftop of the O2 Arena in 2010.
- Scatting: The "na na na" chorus at the beginning and end of "Born to Be My Baby".
- "One Wild Night" from Crush and "Judgement Day" from ''New Jersey Deluxe Edition."
- Self-Titled Album: The first one.
- Sensitive Guy and Manly Man: Jon and Richie.
- Sequential Symptom Syndrome: Provides the page quote with lyrics from Bad Medicine.
- Shout-Out: From "It's My Life":
"My heart is like an open highway / Like Frankie said, I did it my way."
- Spoken Word in Music - Jon does a monologue after the guitar solo in "Keep The Faith."
- Subdued Section: Quite a lot - You Give Love A Bad Name, Keep The Faith, I'll Sleep When I'm Dead, Bed of Roses, Lost Highway, and Because We Can.
- Take That: "Last Man Standing" to music other than rock and roll.
- Title Only Chorus: "Lay Your Hands on Me".
- Title Track: "Keep The Faith," "These Days," "Bounce," "Have A Nice Day," "Lost Highway," and "What About Now."
- Train Song: "Homebound Train" from New Jersey.
- Truck Driver's Gear Change - "Livin' On A Prayer" and the demo of "Always".
- Unplugged Version: Their performance of "Livin' on a Prayer/Wanted Dead or Alive" at the 1989 Video Music Awards.
- This Left Feels Right is a whole album of this.
- Vocal Range Exceeded: Try watching any show they've performed in 1987.
- Probably the reason why Jon lets the other members and the crowd sing the high parts of the chorus of "Livin' On A Prayer".
- One can only wonder how quickly Jon's voice deteriorated during the Because We Can tour in 2013.
- Wacky Marriage Proposal: All About Lovin' You.
- Word Salad Lyrics: Present in the first verse of "Who Says You Can't Go Home"
Like a blind dog without a bone
I was a gypsy lost in the Twilight Zone
I hijacked a rainbow and crashed into a pot of gold