Jon Bon Jovi Biography

Jon Bon Jovi

Jon Bovi: Live in Chicago

Saturday 31 December at 2pm

John Francis Bongiovi Jr was born in New Jersey, and was then raised in nearby Sayreville. Both of Jon’s parents - Carol Sharkey and John Sr - were US Marines.

Jon spent most of his adolescence bunking school to opt for music activities instead and he ended up playing in local bands with friends and his cousin Tony who owned the then famous New York recording studio, the Power Station. As a result, his academic records displayed less than spectacular achievements and poor grades.

After leaving school, Jon was hired as a janitor and thanks to his family connections he was lucky enough to record musical demos with several famous musicians at the Power Station studios. One demo in particular, Runaway caught the attention of the local New Jersey radio station and Jon recruited a band to support the song. Soon the band attracted a record company bidding war with some major labels and upon signing to Mercury/Polygram in 1983, the band became known as Bon Jovi - a diversion from his real surname in order to generate a wider audience fan base due to its disconnection with Jon’s true Italian ethnicity.

Bon Jovi’s first studio album, self-titled, went gold in the charts and Runaway became their first Top 40 hit. It was at this time that Jon’s cousin Tony Bongiovi apparently sued Jon and the band by claiming that he’d been responsible for their creation and unique sound. The case was reportedly settled out of court in 1986.

In 1985, the band’s second album 7800 Fahrenheit was released and also gained a gold record sale status yet Jon and his co-members felt that their fame wasn’t at the level they were hoping for.

To aim for higher success, Bon Jovi enlisted the help of professional songwriter Desmond Child to work on their sound for their next album, Slippery When Wet. As a fresh approach, the group wrote a total of 30 songs and auditioned them for local teenagers in New Jersey and New York to enable them to base the final running order of the album on their opinions.

The release of the finished work in 1986 was the huge hit the band had been waiting for. Slippery When Wet went on to sell nine millions copies in just the USA and two songs in particular, You Give Love A Bad Name and Livin’ On A Prayer hit the number one slot in the singles chart. Finally Bon Jovi had become the worldwide musical superstars they had been dreaming of.

Following the group’s success, Jon Bon Jovi was asked to assist in producing Cher’s ‘comeback’ album, Cher, as a solo influence. Jon co-wrote and sang backing 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 best-selling multi-platinum album Heart of Stone in 1987.

In 1989, Jon married his high school sweetheart Dorothea Hurley and the couple remain together today, with four children.

Shortly before his marriage to Dorothea, Jon made his first film appearance in The Return of Bruno (1988), a move that would see his long-term love of music also become equally paired with a career in acting.

Meanwhile, Bon Jovi’s fourth album New Jersey was released in September of the same year. The album topped the American Billboard charts for a month and included five Top 10 singles. As a result of the success, the band embarked on an 18 month tour around the world.

After the long tour, the band took a well-earned break and during this time Jon wrote the soundtrack for Young Guns II (which he took an unaccredited cameo acting part in also). The film and album were released in 1990 and gave Jon his first solo number one single with the hit Blaze of Glory. The soundtrack also peaked at number three in the charts and Jon’s input was recognised with both Grammy and Academy Award nominations plus a Golden Globe win for Best Original Song. A second single from the film’s soundtrack album, Miracle, also had a successful release in reaching the number 12 chart position and featured a then unknown Matt LeBlanc in the video.

Jon reunited with the rest of his band members in 1992 with their new work, Keep The Faith. The album didn’t manage to meet the success of the group’s previous two hit releases and spent only a fortnight in the top 10.

In 1994, Bon Jovi released a greatest hits album, Cross Road. The collection featured two new songs, Always and These Days which both were successful single releases, most notably throughout Europe and in Britain than the US.

Jon’s first significant acting part came in 1995 in the film Moonlight and Valentino alongside Gwyneth Paltrow and Kathleen Turner. He followed this with a lead role in The Leading Man (1996).

Jon’s first solo album, Destination Anywhere was released 1997 and was a success. Continuing to concentrate on his solo projects, Jon spent the next couple of years focussed on his acting career, making three films in 1998 - Row Your Boat, No Looking Back and Homegrown.

In 2000 after a five year break, Bon Jovi reunited for their seventh studio album, Crush. The album went double platinum in the US and was an instant number one hit in the UK charts with the single It’s My Life noted as one of the group’s most successful releases in a decade. It’s My Life earned the band a Grammy for Best Rock Performance by a Duo or Group while Crush won Best Rock Album.

Synching the band’s constant success in the musical world, Jon continued to take acting roles and starred in two significant hits in 2000. Pay It Forward alongside Academy Award winners Kevin Spacey and Helen Hunt and U-571 with Matthew McConaughey and Harvey Keitel.

Jon’s appearance in nine episodes of the highly acclaimed US comedy, Ally McBeal in 2002 resulted in his biggest audience impact, purely as starring in such a hit television series ensured that his status as an actor was recognised the world over.

Bon Jovi’s eighth album, Bounce followed suit of its predecessors by zooming straight to the number two slot in 2002. This was the band’s highest chart debut in their 20 year career, proving that their winning song writing formula was unbeatable.

In the years that have followed Bounce, Jon Bon Jovi has successfully continued to synch his acting career, most recently in the hit US TV series, The West Wing (2006) alongside Bon Jovi’s acclaimed musical status, releasing a further four albums.

Have A Nice Day in particular was regarded as a worldwide hit with both critics and fans alike when it was released in 2005. The album has sold four and half million copies to date across the world and reached platinum status in several countries.

2007 marked the release of the band’s ninth studio album, Lost Highway with a tour to promote it. With Jon Bon Jovi’s music and theatrical talents overflowing on his personal CV, his future at the top of the charts and in the film world will keep him and his fans happy for a long time to come.

On 6 April 2009, it was announced that the Tribeca Film Festival would show a Bon Jovi documentary called 'When We Were Beautiful'. It followed the group as they took part in their Lost Highway tour in 2008.

In November 2009, the band released their latest studio album 'Circle'. Jon also featured on the single 'Everybody Hurts', which was re-recorded by 21 artists in support of the Haiti earthquake in 2010. He also appeared in TV comedy '30 Rock' as himself.

On 15 December 2010, Jon was appointed by president Barack Obama to the new White House Council for Community Services. Not only does he provide advice to the president on solving specific community problems, he has been tasked with enlisting leaders in a number of sectors and industries to make progress on key policies suggested by the US government.

In recent years, his Jon Bon Jovi Soul Foundation has helped build more than 260 affordable homes for individuals and families on low incomes.

He returned to his acting in 2011, appearing in 'New Year's Eve' with Katharine Heigel.

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