New Jersey rockers Bon Jovi started out as a "hair band" in the mid-1980s, and have evolved into international superstars. Borrowing the title from a classic Elvis Presley album, the band has just released a four-CD box set entitled 100,000,000 Bon Jovi Fans Can't Be Wrong. The new release celebrates the band's multi-million album sales and 20 years together.
Rising from central New Jersey, Bon Jovi gained success with their straightforward rock and roll, and lyrics about determination and surviving against the odds. The band's history reads like a working-class success story. Singer Jon Bon Jovi worked in his brother's recording studio, cutting his own demo tapes in his spare time, with the help of guitarist Richie Sambora, drummer Tico Torres and keyboard player David Bryan. When a New York City radio station started playing their music, Bon Jovi performed their first live show in a bowling alley.
Their first album was released less than a year later, and within three more years, the world knew about Bon Jovi. Critics agree that their songwriting craft distinguished them from other "hair bands" of the 1980s, and is responsible for their longevity.
100,000,000 Bon Jovi Fans Can't Be Wrong, shows the evolution of the band's career, with previously-unreleased recordings, rare tracks, songs from film soundtracks, and a DVD of interviews and documentaries. The album highlights the band's work from 1985 to 2003.
Jon Bon Jovi felt it was time to share some of this material with fans, commenting, "I thought, 'Why not take the time to accept the pat on the back and congratulate your bandmates and the people who have supported you for 20 years, and go into those vaults people have always heard about and were never privy to.'"
In the 1990s, Bon Jovi almost called it quits. After six years of international touring, the band members were exhausted. Guitarist Richie Sambora recalls, "It just about killed us. We couldn't even speak to each other. We were just dead from the whole trip."
Jon Bon Jovi admits he was overwhelmed in his role as leader of the band, commenting, "Suddenly, you're being asked your opinion as though it matters as the head of a big company, making decisions that employ 100 people at a time. That was a lot to ask." The band took a break, with Jon Bon Jovi and Richie Sambora recording solo albums. The two also hired a psychologist to help the band members learn to better communicate with each other. They returned in 1992 to release a new string of hit albums.
When asked if the band will tour to support the four-CD set, Jon Bon Jovi says, "No, no, NO! We have a new record coming next year that's already done. This current album is a mile-marker, end of story. In this day and age you have to do different things. It has to be new and exciting, or why do it?"
In November, Bon Jovi received the Award of Merit at the annual American Music Awards, which recognizes "outstanding contributions to the musical entertainment of the American public."