Jon Bon Jovi: When you write truth, people find that’s their story too

By Naomi Clarke, PA Senior Entertainment Reporter

Perseverance. It’s a necessary quality to survive many of life’s major challenges, but you’ll likely need a double dose to withstand the ruthless nature of the music industry.

Thankfully for Jon Bon Jovi, he fostered this steadfast attitude in the early days of his career when he had to power through his first song Runaway being rejected by countless studios and his rock band roaming the streets of New Jersey playing local bars and clubs hoping for a break.

Their first two albums, the self-titled Bon Jovi in 1984 and the follow-up 7800 Degrees Fahrenheit the following year, enjoyed reasonable success. But their third album Slippery When Wet propelled them to stratospheric fame as it was filled with classics such as You Give Love A Bad Name, Wanted Dead Or Alive and Livin’ On a Prayer.

Bon Jovi performing on stage
Bon Jovi perform on stage (Ian West/PA) Photo by Ian West

With its soaring guitar riffs and well-crafted melody, the later track was destined to become anthemic, but possibly why it continues to be a cultural cornerstone is its story of perseverance, reminding us to hold on to hope.

“It’s been our journey, and at least I can speak from my writing, that when you write truth, people find that’s their story too”, says Bon Jovi, 62, as he reflects on how the band’s music still resonates as they reach their 40th milestone.

The formula seems to have worked as the band has gone on to sell more than 130 million albums, performed in more than 50 countries and been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

The group has now released their 16th studio album to celebrate the 40-year milestone, which marks a change of direction from their last couple, with Bon Jovi regarding 2016’s This House Is Not for Sale as a “statement record” as it was their first since guitarist Richie Sambora quit in 2013, while their 2020 album was a “topic record” influenced by global events.

A post shared by Bon Jovi (@bonjovi)

Their latest record Bon Jovi sees as a “return to joy” as it came from a post-pandemic and post-surgery world for the singer, who has spent the last couple of years recovering from vocal cord surgery after they began to atrophy, threatening to end his career.

“It sucked”, he tells me with a hearty chuckle while sat in a central London hotel. “I certainly didn’t anticipate anything like that, especially coming from a place where I had always taken very good care of my instrument.

“So it was dumbfounding to me, prior to the surgery, when it wasn’t working all of a sudden, I couldn’t understand why.

“I tried everything to cajole it, and even that didn’t work. So it was very hard, and the process and the progress have been another part of the journey. I’m not 100% through it yet, but I’m darn close.”

There is still uncertainty if the group will ever be able to tour again, but for now, the singer could express his pent-up emotions through their new album.

The 12-track record takes stalk of the band’s past but it does not slip into desperately yearning for previous times, instead feeling appreciative of the now while looking towards the future.

The opener and lead single Legendary feels like a love letter to the loved ones who have supported him over the years, “Got what I want/cause I got what I need,” he sings over a thumping drum beat.


It is also special to him as it pays tribute to his wife Dorothea, who is referred to as the “brown-eyed girl”.

He married his teenage sweetheart 35 years ago after they met in high school when he was age 18 and she was 17, and praises her as the “rock that everything revolves around”.

“I could not have done any of this without her support”, the singer says.

“You can get all the professional help in the world that one needs, but it’s the personal touch of someone who cares as much as she does, that is the thing that keeps you going.”

Their family has expanded recently, with their eldest son Jesse getting married and third child Jake tying the knot to Stranger Things star Millie Bobby Brown in recent months.

Has he offered them marriage advice? “Not necessarily”, he says. “I think that all the kids have been looking, fortunately for us, to their parents and us as examples of what worked. And so we’re excited for them, we’re excited for them.”

The frontman confirms he did not have to perform at either of the ceremonies, which he describes as “sweet” and “intimate celebrations”.

“I think the big key of it is that we grew together”, he says of the secret behind his lasting relationship.

“No matter what challenges there were, we lived through them together.”

A post shared by Jon Bon Jovi (@jonbonjovi)

The father-of-four recalls how everything changed when they welcomed their first child in 1993 as all their focus was recentred.

“I think that was probably the most important thing I learned”, he muses.

“What matters now is their wellbeing.”

This life-experience filtered through into his songwriting, but he assures me that the group had more than their “fair share of fun” over the years. However, the singer insists he always knew where to draw the line, even amid their wilder days.

“I didn’t have the physical or mental capacity to handle the drug culture”, he says.

“It wasn’t anything that drew me. And I didn’t have the physical ability to get up and perform for you tomorrow.”

The singer and the group have been undergoing a lot of self-reflection of recent through their new four-part documentary Thank You, Goodnight: The Bon Jovi Story.

The series is described as a “rare look behind the scenes” into the US rock band, which revisits their “triumphs and setbacks, greatest hits, biggest disappointments, and most public moments of friction”.

Thank You, Goodnight: The Bon Jovi Story UK premiere – London
David Bryan, Jon Bon Jovi, Tico Torres and Gotham Chopra attend the UK premiere of Thank You, Goodnight: The Bon Jovi Story (Ian West/PA) Photo by Ian West

“I watched my professional life flash by me, but fortunately, I haven’t been hit by that bus yet”, he says about how it felt to watch the last 40 years played back.

“But it was emotional because you realised the ups and the downs and everything we’ve been through. And it’s not that I’d forgotten any aspect of it, but it’s been a lot, and it’s been great.”

As the group looks towards the future, Bon Jovi sounds optimistic, but he admits artificial intelligence seeping into the music industry “scares the hell out” of him.

“They haven’t quite figured out the greatest song yet, but it doesn’t mean it’s not coming”, he notes.

But that long-standing perseverance kicks in as he adds: “We’re going to have to find ways to regulate it and utilise it for something positive.”

And to the upcoming singers and bands trying to cut through, he advises them “to be true to who you are”.

“Do not chase fads nor fashions, because by the time you catch up, it’ll be by you already.

“And it’ll never ring true, even if you catch that tiger by the tail for a brief moment and maybe have that one hit because you jumped on a fad, if it’s not what moves you, the curse is you’re going to have to sing that song for the next 40 years”, he adds with a chuckle.

Bon Jovi’s album Forever is out now.