Monday, November 08, 2010

Jon Bon's Family Saved Him

This was a GREAT article in the Daily Record. Thanks, SuperKiwi, for passing it along!

Bon Jovi tells how his wife and kids saved him when the crazy lifestyle got too much

ROCKER Jon Bon Jovi slumps on his stool, stifles a yawn and pretends to fall asleep. I know how he is feeling.

We're in a BBC Radio 2 studio in London where US rock supergroup Bon Jovi are playing live on the Drivetime Show with DJ Simon Mayo.

They've agreed to perform - in front of just 100 diehard fans - to raise £20,000 for Children In Need. But events have taken a near Spinal Tap-style turn.

As the band wait patiently to play classic hits You Give Love A Bad Name, It's My Life and Wanted (Dead Or Alive) at 15-minute intervals they have to endure endless "wacky" radio items such as a board game expert droning on about the history of Cluedo and Monopoly, a Confession Spot featuring a listener who planted fake toilet paper in loos and Sprightly Pensioner of the Day.

"Let's talk about board games. I'm BORED," quips Jon to laughter from the audience. Luckily, it's all lighthearted banter as Bon Jovi fill in the gaps playing impromptu versions of Lost Highway, Bed Of Roses and a show-stopping cover of Conway Twitty's It's Only Make Believe.

Job done, I'm invited back to the plush Savoy Hotel to interview the 48- year-old singer. That's when I get a taste of his superstar lifestyle. Jon insists I travel in his vehicle. Flanked by minders we race past paparazzi and fans and speed off. At the Savoy, security is tight because Prince Charles is attending a function. We're spirited in via a service entrance and settle in the cocktail bar for a chat.

Jon is engaging company and there's lots to talk about. Bon Jovi have released Greatest Hits, a double CD which includes all their classics and new single What Do You Got? They're playing Murrayfield Stadium in Edinburgh on June 22, 2011, their biggest ever show in Scotland.

While the singer prefers to always look forward, getting nostalgic about a career which has seen the Grammy-winning band sell 120million records, chalk up five UK No.1 albums including Keep The Faith and play to 34million fans, it does throw up some bittersweet memories.

"The goal at this time in my life is to maintain what we've achieved with silent grace and not burn out. I want to be a contributor to pop culture. But I need to ensure Bon Jovi are progressing and moving forward," said Jon.

Bon Jovi have been nominated for the 2011 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame with Alice Cooper, Neil Diamond, Tom Waits and Donovan. Such an accolade would have been unthinkable for the teenage Jon whose ambition didn't stretch further than landing a recording deal.

"That was the highest rung on my ladder. I thought if I signed one I could still live at home with my mum," recalled Jon, laughing.

But in 1986, life changed forever as album Slippery When Wet hit No.1 and produced landmark singles You Give Love A Bad Name and Livin' On A Prayer.

Jon said: "We were playing a Holiday Inn in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, opening for The 38 Special, when our manager flew in to tell his boys, You're No.1.'

"We lost our f****** minds with excitement. The 38 Special said, 'How do you feel about a co-headline tour?' We said, 'Sorry, we're outta here' and scammed promoters to pay for a private jet to get us from gig to gig. It was like a cartoon where our tour bus was travelling to the next town as we flew overhead.

"We said, 'Take your tour bus and shove it'. I've never got back on another one again 25 years later."

But Jon admits he nearly paid the ultimate price for his phenomenal success. He said: "I remember the burnout. It was terrible. I went from being a 25-year-old kid in a rock band to head of a corporation. Suddenly, I was the boss employing a lot of people and had to make decisions which affected lives. I wasn't prepared for that. I don't blame the managers around us then.

"In retrospect, if I'd had a kid band like Bon Jovi I'd have said, 'Okay boys, go home. Have confidence. It will keep happening, don't worry'. I'd never have made them do a 240-date tour and every TV interview. I'm older and wiser now."

Jon credits his wife of 21 years Dorothea for pulling him through. They met at high school and live in New York with their children Stephanie Rose, 17, Jesse James, 15, Jacob, eight, and Romeo, six.

Jon revealed: "I crashed physically and mentally. My wife said, 'You gotta stop'. I was driving on the Pacific Coast highway on my way to see a shrink. I felt like jumping out of the moving car and I'd have been killed. I'm NOT exaggerating.

"I got to the shrink's office 45 minutes late for an hour-long appointment. Much as I wanted to cry on the guy's shoulder I didn't have enough time left in my consultation. So I became Jon Bon Jovi from New Jersey again. I said, 'Do you know what. Go f*** yourself. I don't need you to fix me up. I'll figure it out'.

"God blessed me. I had a wife who loved me and a family to go home to. As tired and burnt-out as I was, I'm no quitter. There was no way I was gonna die. I'm still here. My health and my family are the core of my being. Without my wife and kids I'd be a dead man. It's a beautiful privilege to still be doing what I'm doing. A dream come true."

Long may it continue but Jon is already thinking ahead. He said: "You're never going to see the fat Elvis in me. People I admired like Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix and John Belushi all died at 27. I've got jeans older than that.

"Between the ages of 42 and 48 has given me some of my greatest memories yet. When I look at my peers Bob Dylan, Jimmy Page, Bruce Springsteen, Bono - they're all over 50 and still doing great. That's because they don't live the bulls*** or cliched rock star life. They survive on a great catalogue and new material. That's the team I want to play for.

"The Rolling Stones set the bar to where I look to as a band. But I don't envision myself touring in the way they do. My knees won't hold out. I'm reading Keith Richards' book for some motivation. Will I be singing Livin' On A Prayer at 68? I don't know. For now, I'm very comfortable being 48. There's a vintage which comes with age and experience."

~ Hath


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