top of page

Formation

Livin On A Prayer ♫

Founding member John Bon Jovi began playing piano and guitar at age thirteen with his first band, called Raze. He was enrolled in an all-boys Catholic school, St. Joseph High School in Metuchen, New Jersey, but left to attend public school at Sayreville War Memorial High School. At sixteen, Bon Jovi met David Bryan (David Bryan Rashbaum), February 7, 1962, Edison, New Jersey, USA and formed a 12-piece cover band named Atlantic City Expressway after the New Jersey highway. They played clubs in New Jersey, even though they were underage. Still a teenager, Bon Jovi played in the band John Bongiovi and the Wild Ones, playing local clubs like "The Fast Lane" and making the first part of known acts in the area.

In mid-1982, out of school and working part-time at a women's shoe store, Bon Jovi took a job at Power Station Studios, a Manhattan recording facility where his cousin, Tony Bongiovi, co-owned. Bon Jovi made several demos (including one produced by Billy Squier) and sent them to numerous record labels, but failed to make an impact. Bon Jovi visited local radio station WAPP 103.5FM "The Apple" in Lake Success, New York. He went directly to promotions manager John Lassman, who accepted the song "Runaway" for possible inclusion on the local talent station's compilation album. Lassman, along with program director Dave Hamilton and musical director/afternoon DJ Chip Hobart listened to and liked the song, deciding to include it on the album. Bon Jovi was initially reluctant but eventually gave them the song which Bon Jovi had used studio musicians to play on the track "Runaway" (originally written in 1980). The session musicians who helped record "Runaway" were known as The All Star Review. They were: guitarist Tim Pierce, keyboardist Roy Bittan, drummer Frankie LaRocka and bassist Hugh McDonald. The song began airplay in the New York area, and later other sister stations in major markets picked up the song.

In March 1983 Bon Jovi called on David Bryan, who in turn called on bassist Alec John Such (November 14, 1951, Perth Amboy, New Jersey, USA), ex-Phantom's Opera and an experienced drummer named Tico Torres (Hector Samuel Juan Torres, October 7, 1953, New York, New York, USA).

Bon Jovi neighbor Dave Sabo (aka The Snake) (b. David Michael Sabo, September 16, 1964, North Brunswick, New Jersey, USA), who would later form the band Skid Row. Sabo was eventually replaced by Richie Sambora (born Richard Stephen Sambora, July 11, 1959, Perth Amboy, New Jersey, USA).

Prior to joining the band, Sambora had toured with Joe Cocker, played with a band called Mercy, and had been called upon to audition for Kiss. He also performed on the album Lessons with the band Message, which was reissued on CD by Long Island Records in 1995. Message was originally signed to Led Zeppelin's Swan Song Records label, although the album was not never out. Tico Torres was also an experienced musician, having recorded and performed live with Phantom's Opera, The Marvelettes and Chuck Berry. He appeared on 26 records and had recently recorded with Franke and the Knockouts, a Jersey band with hit singles in the early 1980s. David Bryan had left the band he and Bon Jovi had founded to study medicine.

While in college, he realized he wanted to pursue music full-time and was accepted into the Juilliard School, New York's music school. When Bon Jovi called his friend and told him he was putting together a band and that a record deal seemed likely, Bryan followed Bon Jovi's lead and dropped out of school. Bon Jovi's lineup, which remained stable for a decade, was: * Jon Bon Jovi (vocals, rhythm guitar) * Richie Sambora (guitar, backing vocals) * David Bryan (keyboards, backing vocals) * Tico Torres (drums, percussion) * Alec John Such (bass guitar, backing vocals) realized he wanted to pursue music full time and was accepted into the Juilliard School of Music in New York.

First Years (1982-1985)

bj logo

Once the band began playing showcases and opening up local talent, they caught the eye of record executive Derek Shulman, who signed them to Mercury Records, part of the PolyGram company. Because Jon Bon Jovi wanted a band name, Pamela Maher a friend of Richard Fischer, an employee of Doc McGhee, suggested that they be called Bon Jovi, like the other famous two-word band Van Hallen. This name was chosen instead of Johny Electric's original idea. Pamela's suggestion for the name was met with little enthusiasm, but two years later they hit the charts under that name.

With the help of their new manager Doc McGhee, they recorded the band's debut album, Bon Jovi, which was released on January 21, 1984. The album included the band's first hit single, "Runaway". The band opened for ZZ Top in Madison Square Garden (before the release of their debut album), and for Scorpions and Kiss in the United States and Europe. They also made an appearance on the popular television show American Bandstand. In 1985, Bon Jovi's second album, 7800° Fahrenheit, was released. Although the album did not do as well as they had hoped in terms of sales, it got Bon Jovi back on the road on tour. In April and May 1985, Bon Jovi made headlines in Europe and Japan. In May, the band began a series of 6-month US tours in support of Ratt. Midway through this tour, they managed to make appearances at Texas Jam's Monsters of Rock and Castle Donnington concerts in England.

bottom of page