John Francis Bongiovi, Jr. (born March 2, 1962), known as Jon Bon Jovi, is an American musician, singer, songwriter, record producer and actor, best known as the founder and lead singer of rock band Bon Jovi, which was formed in 1983.
During his career, he has released two solo albums and eleven studio albums with his band, which to date have sold over 130 million albums worldwide making them one of the world's best-selling music artists. In addition to his music career, Jon Bon Jovi started an acting career in the 1990s, starring roles in several movies include Moonlight and Valentino and U-571 and also made appearances on TV series including Sex and the City and Ally McBeal.
As a songwriter, Jon Bon Jovi was inducted into Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2009. In 2012, Jon Bon Jovi ranked number fifty on the list of Billboard magazine's "Power 100", a ranking of "The Most Powerful and Influential People In The Music Business". In 1996, People magazine named him as one of the "50 Most Beautiful People In The World". In 2000, the same magazine named him as the "Sexiest Rock Star" and he was also placed at number thirteen on VH1's "100 Sexiest Artists ".
In addition, Jon Bon Jovi was the one of the founders and majority owners of the Arena Football League team Philadelphia Soul. He is the founder of The Jon Bon Jovi Soul Foundation which was founded in 2006 and exists to combat issues that force families and individuals into economic despair. He also campaigned for Al Gore in the 2000 Presidential election, John Kerry in the 2004 Presidential election, and Barack Obama in the 2008 Presidential election. In 2010, President Barack Obama named Jon Bon Jovi to the White House Council for Community Solutions. He was also awarded an honorary Doctorate of Humanities from Monmouth University in 2001.
Jon Bon Jovi was born John Francis Bongiovi, Jr. in Perth Amboy, New Jersey, the son of two former Marines, barber John Francis Bongiovi, Sr. and Playboy Bunny turned florist Carol Sharkey. He has two brothers, Anthony and Matthew. His father was of Italian (from Sciacca, Sicily) and Slovak ancestry and his mother is of German and Russian descent. He has stated that he is a blood relative of singer Frank Sinatra. Bon Jovi was raised Catholic. He spent summers in Erie, Pennsylvania, with his grandparents, and sold newspapers. As a child, John attended St. Joseph High School, in Metuchen, New Jersey, during his freshman and sophomore years. He later transferred to Sayreville War Memorial High School in Parlin, New Jersey.
John spent most of his adolescence skipping school to opt for music activities instead, and ended up playing in local bands with friends and his cousin Tony Bongiovi, who owned the then famous New York recording studio, The Power Station. As a result, his academic records displayed poor grades. By the time he was 16, John Bongiovi was playing clubs. It was not long before he joined up with keyboardist David Bryan (real name: David Bryan Rashbaum), who played with him in a ten-piece rhythm and blues band called Atlantic City Expressway. John also performed with bands called The Rest, The Lechers and John Bongiovi and the Wild Ones.
When he was seventeen, Jon Bon Jovi was working sweeping floors at his cousin Tony Bongiovi's recording studio. In 1980, when Meco was there recording Christmas in the Stars: The Star Wars Christmas Album, Tony Bongiovi recommended him for the song "R2-D2 We Wish You A Merry Christmas". This became his first professional recording (credited as John Bongiovi).
During 1983 Jon Bon Jovi joined Scandal as a rhythm guitarist (briefly). He also appears during a demo recording of music video for Scandal's 1983 single "Love's Got A Line On You" which reached #59 in US.
In June 1982, Jon Bon Jovi recorded a song called "Runaway". The studio musicians who helped record "Runaway" – known as The All Star Review – were guitarist Tim Pierce, keyboardist Roy Bittan, drummer Frankie LaRocka, and bassist Hugh McDonald. He went to several record companies, including Atlantic Records and Mercury (PolyGram), but they all turned him down. Jon Bon Jovi visited major rock station WAPP 103.5FM "The Apple" in New York City. He spoke directly to the promotion director John Lassman, who accepted the song "Runaway" for inclusion on the station's compilation album of local homegrown talent. "Runaway" became a local hit. Along the way, Mercury Records gave Jon Bon Jovi a recording contract in 1983, and to promote "Runaway", Jon Bon Jovi called up David Bryan who in turn called bassist Alec John Such, drummer Tico Torres. Tapped to play lead guitar was Jon Bon Jovi's neighbor, Dave Sabo who later formed the group Skid Row. Sabo was eventually replaced by Richie Sambora. After Jon Bon Jovi claimed he wanted a group name, a friend of Richard Fischer and an employee of Doc McGhee, suggested they call themselves Bon Jovi, following the example of the other famous last name bands such as Van Halen and Dokken. This name was chosen instead of the original idea of Johnny Electric. The band released their eponymous first album on January 21, 1984. The band became an international act in the late 1980s, when they released their breakthrough album Slippery When Wet. Their fourth album New Jersey, which was released in 1988, became as successful as its predecessor.
Following the group’s success, Jon Bon Jovi and Richie Sambora were asked to assist in producing Cher's self-titled album in 1987. Jon Bon Jovi and Richie Sambora co-wrote and sang backup vocals on Cher’s single "We All Sleep Alone" and also produced several other tracks on the album, later going on to co-produce Cher's multi-platinum album Heart of Stone in 1989 and co-wrote the song "Does Anybody Really Fall In Love Anymore?". Jon Bon Jovi and Richie Sambora also produced and co-wrote a song called "Hell Is Living Without You" on Alice Cooper's album Trash in 1989.
During the Slippery When Wet Tour in 1987, Jon Bon Jovi's attempt to give it his all during live shows and the tour's exhausting schedule greatly strained his vocal cords, and he began receiving steroid shots to help him sing. With the help of a vocal coach, he was able to continue doing the tour. Despite the band achieving massive success with Slippery When Wet and New Jersey, living on the road almost destroyed the strong bond between the band members. The band members were exhausted physically, mentally and emotionally. Jon Bon Jovi noted that, each band member went their separate way, even departing in separate jets after the New Jersey Tour ended in early 1990 which exceeded 232 shows on 5 continents.
In 1990, Jon Bon Jovi recorded a soundtrack to the movie Young Guns II more commonly known as Blaze of Glory. Having been originally approached by his friend Emilio Estevez to lend "Wanted Dead Or Alive" as the theme song for his upcoming Billy the Kid sequel, Jon Bon Jovi ended up composing an all-new theme song for the film's soundtrack and delivering his first solo album. The album featured high profile guests such as Elton John, Little Richard and Jeff Beck. The title track, "Blaze of Glory" peaked at number one on the Billboard Hot 100. In 1991, "Blaze of Glory" won an award for Favorite Pop/Rock Single at the American Music Awards and awarded a Golden Globe, as well. The song also earned Jon Bon Jovi an Academy Award nomination and a Grammy Award nomination.
In 1991, Jon Bon Jovi started his own label, Jambco Records, and produced Aldo Nova's album Blood on the Bricks and Billy Falcon's album Pretty Blue World. Disillusioned with the music business, despite all his success, and unhappy with the status quo, in the summer of 1991 he set off on a two-week cross-country motorcycle trip that would significantly affect his creative juices.
In September 1991, he fired the band's long time manager Doc McGhee, business advisers, and agents and created Bon Jovi Management. After that he put the band together. Upon resolving their issues, they returned with the album Keep the Faith, released in late 1992. Jon Bon Jovi cut his trademark hair and the band turned away from the 1980s hair metal to conventional rock and introduced a more mature sound. The media focused considerable attention on Jon Bon Jovi's hair. When Jon Bon Jovi cut his hair, he made headlines on CNN. Despite the rise of grunge and alternative rock, adult contemporary-styled ballad hits like "Bed of Roses" and "Always" helped sustain the band's popularity in the 1990s.
Jon Bon Jovi, wrote what would become his second solo album, 1997's Destination Anywhere. A short movie of the same name was recorded right around the record's release, based entirely on the songs from the record and starring Jon Bon Jovi, Demi Moore, Kevin Bacon and Whoopi Goldberg. The film debuted on both MTV and VH1 in 1997. After five years since their last studio album, the band returned in 2000 and released their seventh studio album, Crush. The lead single, "It's My Life" helped introduce the band to a new, younger fan base.
In 2012, Jon Bon Jovi recorded a soundtrack to the movie Stand Up Guys more commonly known as Not Running Anymore. On December 13, 2012, it was announced that "Not Running Anymore" would be nominated for a Golden Globe Award
Jon Bon Jovi is a credited actor in the movies Moonlight and Valentino, The Leading Man, Destination Anywhere, Homegrown, Little City, No Looking Back, Row Your Boat, Vampires Los Muertos, U-571, Cry Wolf, National Lampoon's Pucked, and New Year's Eve. He also had a supporting role in the movie Pay It Forward, where he played Helen Hunt's abusive ex-husband. His TV series appearances include Sex and the City, 30 Rock, Las Vegas, The West Wing, and an extended stint on Ally McBeal as a plumber who was Ally's boyfriend for a short period of time. He also had a brief, uncredited role in the 1990 film Young Guns II. On January 24, 2011, it was confirmed that Jon would be cast in the film New Year's Eve, released later that year, as a successful rock star who is connected with Katherine Heigl's character.
Jon Bon Jovi has worked on behalf of the Special Olympics, the American Red Cross, the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation, Habitat for Humanity, Covenant House, Project H.O.M.E., The Jon Bon Jovi Soul Foundation (formerly the Philadelphia Soul Charitable Foundation), and other groups.
He has been named the first Founding Ambassador of the Habitat for Humanity Ambassador program as part of the international nonprofit organization’s new advocacy outreach initiative. Jon Bon Jovi has been raising awareness with Habitat for Humanity since 2005 when he provided the funds to build six homes in Philadelphia and built the homes alongside the homeowner families, as well as with members of his Philadelphia Soul Arena Football Team. The construction site also served as the video shoot location for his band’s single, "Who Says You Can’t Go Home". In 2006, Bon Jovi made a $1 million donation to build 28 Habitat homes in Louisiana in partnership with low-income families on the hurricane-stricken coast. In July, 2007, Bon Jovi announced a project that will rehabilitate a block of 15 homes in north Philadelphia. During an appearance on The Oprah Winfrey Show in 2005, the band donated $1 million to the Angel Network foundation.
The Jon Bon Jovi Soul Foundation (formerly the Philadelphia Soul Charitable Foundation) was founded in 2006 and exists to combat issues that force families and individuals into economic despair. Through the funding and creation of programs and partnerships, they support innovative community efforts to break the cycle of poverty and homelessness. On October 19, 2011, they opened the JBJ Soul Kitchen, a community restaurant where patrons pay what they can afford for their meal, either with money or by volunteering work.
He is one of 21 artists singing on "Everybody Hurts", a charity single organized by Simon Cowell aiding victims of the 2010 Haiti earthquake.
As a Democrat, Bon Jovi toured extensively on behalf of Presidential candidate John Kerry in 2004, appearing at and playing acoustic sets (with Richie Sambora) at rallies for the Kerry-Edwards ticket throughout the United States. Bon Jovi also played as a part of the Live Earth concert at the Meadowlands in 2007, and was introduced by former Vice President Al Gore. In 2008, Jon Bon Jovi supported Barack Obama for President, even holding an exclusive fundraiser at his home for him; he also played a 2009 Manhattan fundraiser for now Secretary of State Clinton to lessen some of her $6.3 million campaign debt. On Sunday, January 18, 2009, Bon Jovi performed a duet at the Obama Inauguration Concert of the Sam Cooke classic "A Change is Gonna Come" with Bettye LaVette. On June 4, 2009, Bon Jovi performed an acoustic benefit show for democratic Governor Jon Corzine at the NJPAC in Newark, New Jersey.
On June 24, 2009, Jon Bon Jovi, Richie Sambora and Andy Madadian recorded a musical message of worldwide solidarity with the people of Iran. The handwritten Persian sign in the video translates to "we are one".
On December 15, 2010, Bon Jovi was appointed by Barack Obama to the new White House Council for Community Solutions. Bon Jovi's efforts with his own The Jon Bon Jovi Soul Foundation in recent years have resulted in creative public/private partnerships as well as more than 260 units of affordable housing for low income individuals and families. In addition to providing advice to the President on solving specific community needs, the White House Council for Community Solutions has been tasked with three key functions: enlisting leaders in the non-profit, private, and philanthropic sectors to make progress on key policy goals; providing strategic input and recommendations to help the federal government promote greater innovation and cross-sector collaboration; and honoring and highlighting those making a significant impact in their own communities.
Although he is generally associated with the Democratic Party, Bon Jovi's voter registration indicates that he is unaffiliated.
During a stop in LA on The New Jersey Syndicate Tour in 1989, Jon secretly took a trip to Las Vegas, and married his high school sweetheart, Dorothea Hurley (born Sept 29, 1962) in 29 April 1989 at the Graceland Wedding Chapel. The couple has four children: a daughter, Stephanie Rose (born May 31, 1993), and sons, Jesse James Louis (born Feb 19, 1995), Jacob Hurley (born May 7, 2002) and Romeo Jon (born Mar 29, 2004).
In 2004, he became founder and primary owner of the Philadelphia Soul of the Arena Football League. He appeared in several television commercials for the league, typically with John Elway, Hall of Fame quarterback for the Denver Broncos. The AFL will be returning in 2011, but Bon Jovi will no longer be part owner of the Soul.
Bon Jovi describes himself as a recovering Catholic. In 2011, Bon Jovi expressed interest in purchasing 15% of the Atlanta Falcons for 150 million dollars.
Awards and Nominations
MTV Video Music Awards
American Music Awards
Golden Globe Awards
MTV Europe Music Awards
- "Please Come Home for Christmas" was originally credited as a solo recording by Jon Bon Jovi when included on the Christmas compilation A Very Special Christmas 2 in 1992, but when released as a single in UK, Ireland and Europe in 1994, it was released as a Bon Jovi single under the band name. The cover artwork of the single was a still from the music video of Jon Bon Jovi and Cindy Crawford and the same Bon Jovi logo as was used on the albums Keep the Faith and Cross Road and the singles taken from them.
With Bon Jovi
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Image from Discogs