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Bon Jovi

Getting "it" for the first time in the back seat of a car, feeling that virgin beer or pot buzz, seeing Star Wars back in the beginning when absolutely every human being on planet Earth was going through the same thing at the same awesome moment in time: These are the intensely personal, emotional, epiphany-type experiences that are right up there with being a Bon Jovi fan at a Bon Jovi concert.

It's so beautifully simple. The bigger-than-life musical circus of rock comes to your town and nothing in your humble, ordinary, pedestrian existence can transcend its importance.

Bon Jovi fans are telepathically connected at an almost cosmic level. They come from every socio-cultural enclave, from dirt-road, tiny-town middle America or Polish province; New York to Newfoundland, burg to metropolis, valley floor to mountain peak. Witness this global communion of the most rockin'. Lay your hands on the bible of bang, beat and lyric, spanning two decades of ears and hearts faithfully served.

You think I'm waxing too poetic for this assignment? Just wait. I tax my own tortured tongue to express what must be expressed. The magic of Bon Jovi live. Front row girls so deeply in love they would mortgage a part of their soul they haven't yet identified for a lock of hair from the Jersey boy who made good, the frontman with the supernova smile and stage presence of the historically few and far, far between. Boys finding themselves superstars for a night because they, too, dig the tunes - but even better, they're diggin' the way the chicks get when they're diggin' the tunes.

Bon Jovi live is an audio aphrodisiac, a grand-purpose lubricant of mind, body and spirit. It is the cement foundation of one of modern music's most organic, legitimate, tabloid-tested, unshakable, fan-driven success stories.

The original quartet has remained intact since the band's birth in 1983. Jon Bon Jovi on guitars, vocals and charisma. Richie Sambora, blues-bred axeman with fingers of flame and fury; he is Jon's reflective brother-in-arms. Keyboardist Dave Bryan, forever adding new hues to the palette. Tico Torres, the sound of constant rhythmic thunder. In the beginning, it was Alec Jon Such on bass. His departure left a vacancy filled with grace and expertise by Hugh McDonald.

They were all mere boys back then, but they made a pact on the streets of Jersey almost 20 years ago. In Sopranos style, they pledged an allegiance to rock and took off for parts unknown. Great songs, great playing, a chemistry of man and weapon divine in its elements. Here we are two decades later, and you can finally hold in your hands the sounds lost in the ether, sounds that once made you laugh or cry, made you hard, wet, bold, shy, low, high. Yeah HIGH!

The songs included on Bon Jovi's One Wild Night range from the simple to the symphonic. You require an hors d'oeuvre or two? The platter is full of tasty treats like "Someday I'll Be Saturday Night," "Bad Medicine," "Just Older," "Wanted Dead or Alive," and "In and Out of Love." Are your taste buds jumpin' yet?

One Wild Night is Bon Jovi's own "Book of Live" divided into 15 chapters, each one a mini-novella. There are stories of faith and prayer, love and pain, friends and fantasies. Some are dune buggies on a rocky desert floor; others are smooth-gliding Bentleys of impeccable instrumentation, tiny symphonies that carry your heart to places you never want to return from, ever.

Try this one. "Runaway" is as archetypal and raw as the day it was first performed. The track that lifted Bon Jovi off the asphalt so long ago has been retrieved in its original album version from a 1985 performance, and the motivation for its inclusion in this concert-career chronicle goes beyond mere hit-worthiness.

"There is tremendous social relevance in this song today," says Jon. "Kids are more troubled now than ever before. When I was a kid, I was conscious of what was going on around me and was lucky enough to express it in music. The way we performed it when I was 21 reflected a moment in time that spoke of where we came from - rough, electric. That's why I wanted a version from back then on this record."

The inspiration for a live release had been floating around in the minds of each of the band members for years. But it wasn't until Bon Jovi toured the U.S. last fall after a five-year touring hiatus that the time seemed perfect to give something back.

Bon Jovi fans have to be strong, enduring years between the band's visits to their towns. The wait breeds hunger and passion, the kind that electrified arenas in the fall of 2000 and got Jon and the boys to realize what was staring them in the face each and every show: It's always been about being onstage, arm's distance from their lifeblood, the fans.

"This record is something the fans have been requesting for a long time," comments JBJ. "We didn't need to do a live record for us. But we did need to do it for them, the old generation and the new generation. One Wild Night is about pure appreciation for who and what got us here."

In writing the band's bio, I think I've figured out why Jon called me personally and asked me to do it. I believe it's because beyond my journalistic understanding of Bon Jovi as the commercial, artistic, pop/rock phenom, I also know them as just guys.

Because behind the music, you'll find these incredibly normal human beings composed of the same quantum material as you and me. Dig deep down to the core of who we are and there it is, the DNA called rock 'n' roll.

In whatever form you've experienced them, if what Bon Jovi has given you over nearly the past 20 years has brought you even partway there, then One Wild Night will take you the rest of the way home.

Okay, so this bio wasn't slick and statistical. But you can bet your saddle-sore ass it was the truth!

Lonn Friend
April 2001

2001 Mercury Records Inc.

Questions & Answers

Did John take off his shirt?
Yes, the self involved Bon Jovi showed his 6 pack in San Jose, CA.

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