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Born: March 2, 1962
Biography (Biography.com): Born John Francis Bongiovi Jr. on March 2, 1962 in Perth Amboy, New Jersey. Jon was raised by his parents, Carol and John Bongiovi, a hairdresser. By his early teens, he was hanging out at local clubs, convinced that one day he would be a rock star.
Idolizing local rising stars such as Bruce Springsteen and the Asbury Jukes, Jon was playing in clubs by the time he was 16. He met keyboardist David Bryan in high school, and the two formed a ten-piece rhythm and blues band called Atlantic City Expressway. Jon also performed with bands called The Rest, The Lechers and John Bongiovi and the Wild Ones.
In 1980, Jon recorded his first single, “Runaway,” at his cousin's studio, with back-up by studio musicians. A local radio station included the song on a compilation tape, and it began to get frequent airplay. The success of “Runaway” got Jon noticed, and he realized that he'd need more than session players if he wanted to capitalize on his success.
Jon gave David a call, who in turn tapped Alec John Such, Tico Torres and guitarist Richie Sambora. During a show in New York in 1983, the band caught the attention of record executive Derek Shulman, who signed them to PolyGram. It was Shulman who anglicized John Bongiovi's name to Bon Jovi.
Their self-titled debut came out on January 21, 1984. Filled with the group's now-signature power ballads underscored by soaring guitar riffs and well-crafted melodies, the album went gold. Bon Jovi released its follow-up album, 7800 Fahrenheit, in April 1985, which was popular with the fans, but less so with the press. Many critics were turned off by the hard-rock band's manicured image and formulaic style.
Tours opening for the Scorpions, Kiss and Judas Priest helped Bon Jovi build up a considerable fan base that appreciated the group's rugged, soulful collection of songs about how tough it was to be a teenager. The band responded to tepid critical praise with its third album, Slippery When Wet, which went gold and platinum simultaneously within six weeks of its release. Powered by songs like “Livin' on a Prayer” and “Wanted Dead or Alive,” the album sold in excess of 14 million copies, putting it in the same league as Michael Jackson's Thriller.
The band went into temporary retirement in 1989. Jon concentrated on his solo career, married karate champion Dorothea Hurley and appeared in his first movie, Young Guns II, for which he won he won a Golden Globe for Best Song, “Blaze of Glory.”
In 1994, the commercial incentive to return to Bon Jovi proved too hard to resist, and the band released another album, Keep The Faith. Jon enjoyed further solo success with 1997's Destination Anywhere. The band regrouped two years later to record the Grammy-nominated album, Crush, and again in 2002 to put out the album, Bounce. Since then, Bon Jovi has released several more records together, including Lost Highway (2007) and What About Now (2013). In 2015, the group debuted Burning Bridges (2015), the first Bon Jovi album released after Richie Sambora left.
In late 2017, marking an impressive journey that produced an estimated 130 million records sold, Bon Jovi was elected to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.