Jon Bon Jovi (born John Francis Bongiovi, Jr.; March 2, 1962) is an American musician, singer, songwriter, and actor, best known as the founder, occasional rhythm guitarist, and lead singer of rock band Bon Jovi, which was named after him. 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. Тhe band was declared the second richest band for 2011, behind U2, earning an approximate $125 million income. In addition, Jon Bon Jovi is one of the majority-owners of the Philadelphia Soul, a team playing in the Arena Football League. In 2010, President Barack Obama named Jon Bon Jovi to the White House Council for Community Solutions.
As a solo artist, Bon Jovi has received numerous awards for his work, including a Golden Globe and an Academy Award nomination for his solo hit, "Blaze of Glory". He was awarded an honorary Doctorate of Humanities from Monmouth University in 2001. He campaigned for Al Gore in the 2000 Presidential election, John Kerry in the 2004 Presidential election, and Barack Obama in the 2008 Presidential election.
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 florist Carol Sharkey. He has two brothers, Anthony and Matthew. His father was of Italian and Slovak ancestry and his mother was of German and Russian descent. He has stated that he is a blood relative of Frank Sinatra. 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.
With the help of their new manager Doc McGhee, the band's debut album, Bon Jovi, was released on January 21, 1984. The album went gold in the US (sales of over 500,000). In 1985, Bon Jovi's second album 7800°Fahrenheit was released, and though the response weaker, it proved to be a fan favorite. The turning point came when they brought in songwriter Desmond Child for their third album, Slippery When Wet. With Child co-writing many of their hits on this and future albums the band shot to super-stardom around the world with songs such as "You Give Love a Bad Name", "Livin' On A Prayer", and "Wanted Dead or Alive". The album has sold in excess of 28 million copies worldwide since its release in late 1986.
During their 1986–1987 tour, Jon's attempt to give it his all during live shows (plus the tour's exhausting schedule) greatly strained his vocal cords. In the band's Behind The Music special, he notes that his vocal cords were given steroids to help him sing. With the help of a vocal coach, he was able to continue doing the tour. Contrary to popular belief, Bon Jovi did not have voice damage during the New Jersey Syndicate Tour. However by the time of the recording of Slippery When Wet, Bon Jovi could no longer reach the extreme high notes heard across some of the songs in his first two albums.
Jon Bon Jovi in the Netherlands on May 26, 2006
The next album from Bon Jovi was New Jersey released in 1988. The album was recorded very shortly after the tour for Slippery, because the band wanted to prove that they were not just a one hit wonder. The resulting album is a fan favorite and a mammoth commercial success, with hit songs such as "Bad Medicine", "Lay Your Hands on Me" and "I'll Be There for You", which are still nightly stalwarts in their live repertoire.
Despite the band achieving massive success, New Jersey almost led to the end of the band as they went straight back out on the road so soon after the heavy touring for their previous album. This constant living on the road almost destroyed the strong bond between the band members. Sambora is noted on the albums as co-writer for many songs, yet he resented the lack of attention that was heaped on Jon alone. As mentioned in VH1's Behind the Music, the band members note that at the end of the tour, each band member went their separate way, even departing in separate jets after the tour ended in Guadalajara, Mexico in early 1990.
Between 1990 and 1992, members of Bon Jovi went their separate ways after the very rigorous two year New Jersey Tour, which exceeded 200 shows on 5 continents. This time off also helped them determine where Bon Jovi would fit within the rapidly changing music scene upon their return.
In 1992, the band returned with the album Keep the Faith. The album was released in November 1992. Produced by Bob Rock, the album signified an ending to their early metal roots in previous albums and introduced a more "rock n roll"-driven groove to the album. Much more complex, lyrically and musically, the album proved that Bon Jovi could still be a viable band in the 90's, despite the industry's and audience's growing affinity for Grunge.
In 1994, Bon Jovi released a "greatest hits" album titled Cross Road, which also contained two new tracks: the hit singles "Always" and "Someday I'll Be Saturday Night". "Always" spent six months on the Top 10 of the Billboard Hot 100 and became one of Bon Jovi's all-time biggest hits. The song peaked at #4 on the U.S. charts and at #1 in countries across Europe, Asia and in Australia. The single sold very well, going platinum in the U.S. That same year, bassist Alec John Such left the band, the first and only lineup change since Bon Jovi began. Hugh McDonald, who was the bassist on "Runaway", unofficially replaced Such as bassist.
Their sixth studio album These Days was released in June 1995 to the most critical acclaim that the band had ever received. With the album These Days, Bon Jovi took the mature rock sound they had developed on Keep the Faith further. The record as a whole was darker and more downbeat than the usual Bon Jovi flare. By 1996, Bon Jovi had established themselves as a "force" in the music industry, proving much more durable than most of their 80's glam peers.
After another lengthy hiatus of nearly three years, during which several band members worked on independent projects, Bon Jovi regrouped in 1999 to begin work on their next studio album. Their 2000 release, Crush, enjoyed overwhelming success all around the world, thanks in part to the smash-hit single "It's My Life", co-written by famous Swedish producer Max Martin. Crush, which also produced such hits as "Say It Isn't So", helped introduce Bon Jovi to a new, younger fan base.
In late 2002, Bounce, the band's follow-up to Crush, hit stores. Though Bounce did not enjoy the level of success of its predecessor, the album did produce hit singles such as "Everyday" and the title track.
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.