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Since forming in 1983, Bon Jovi has had an incredible career, spanning three decades.
With a number of accolades, including a Grammy under their belt, the band was still hitting the road as of late. They are currently on a North American tour. However, the band took a pause on Sunday, after it was revealed that their former bassist had died.
Here’s a look at the iconic rock band through the years.
The Wild Ones
John Francis Bongiovi Jr., known professionally as Jon Bon Jovi, and keyboard player David Bryan began playing music together in New Jersey as the band called Atlantic City Expressway in the early ‘70s. Jon formed a few other groups through the years and recorded his first single, “Runaway,” in 1980 with studio musicians before re-recording the song for a compilation album on local New York station, WAPP 103.5FM “The Apple.”
As the song picked up plays on radio airwaves in 1983, Jovi used the opportunity to put a full band together. He enlisted the help of Bryan who reached out to bassist Alec John Such and also knew drummer Tico Torres, while Jon scouted out local guitarist Richie Sambora — a hometown performer recommended by Such and Torres.
Bryan had been pursuing music at the Juilliard School at the time, and completely quit college to follow Jovi’s lead and create a band unlike anything anyone had ever heard before.
The guys were signed by Mercury Records and recorded their self-titled debut album with mega-manager Doc McGhee (who worked with Kiss, Mötley Crüe and Skid Row) in 1984, which included “Runaway,” and peaked at No. 43 on the Billboard 200 album chart.
Their second album, 7800° Fahrenheit, was released in 1985 and went certified Gold by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), but didn’t meet the band’s high expectations for a sophomore catalog. The new music did allow Bon Jovi to continue touring around the world, and also perform at the first Farm Aid in 1985.
“Livin on a Prayer”
Bon Jovi began to stray from heavy metal and worked with songwriter extraordinaire Desmond Child to create a more mainstream sound for their third album, Slippery When Wet, which was released in 1986 and became an instant commercial success.
With classic hits including, “You Give Love a Bad Name,” “Wanted Dead or Alive,” and “Livin on a Prayer,” the album spent eight weeks at the No. 1 spot on the US Billboard 200 chart and was named the top-selling album of 1987 — cementing the band’s rock star status in stone.
“Slippery When Wet” is still Bon Jovi’s best-selling album to date, and has earned RIAA 12 times platinum certification, making it one of the top 100 best-selling albums in the United States.
They spent the year touring on behalf of the album and headlined 130 shows on the “Tour Without End,” which grossed more than $28 million.
Their fourth album was released in September 1988, titled New Jersey, and peaked at No. 1 on the charts in the US, Canada, Ireland, New Zealand, UK, and Australia.
New Jersey produced five Top 10 hits on the Billboard Hot 100, including “Bad Medicine” and “I’ll Be There for You,” both of which reached No. 1 on the charts. The music video for “Living in Sin” was banned by MTV for sexual content and had to be re-edited before appearing in heavy rotation on the network.
They visited 22 countries and performed in more than 230 shows on a worldwide tour from 1989 through 1990 until going on hiatus where Jon and Richie both released successful solo albums.
Jon married his high school sweetheart, Dorothea Hurley, at the Graceland Wedding Chapel, in Las Vegas during a stop on the New Jersey tour, and the couple now has four children together.
Keep the Faith
Unhappy with the music industry, Jon fired his longtime business advisers, including McGhee in 1991, and formed Bon Jovi Management. The band changed directions once again with a more serious pop-metal approach, and worked with Metallica and Aerosmith producer Bob Rock on their fifth album, Keep the Faith, in 1992.
They followed with the greatest hits album in 1994 titled Cross Road, which included the tracks “Always” and “Someday I’ll Be Saturday Night.” “Always” became Bon Jovi’s best-selling single and topped the Billboard Hot 100 charts for six months.
But things were not going well for the band outside of music, and Alec John Such left the group in 1994. Jon said at the time: “Of course it hurts. But I learned to accept and respect it. The fact that I’m a workaholic, studio in, studio out, stage on, stage off, want to be dealing with music day and night, doesn’t mean everyone else has to adjust to that pace. Alec wanted to quit for a while now, so it didn’t come as a complete surprise.”
Bon Jovi recorded “These Days” in 1995 and went on 126-show tour before returning home and agreeing to a self-imposed two-year sabbatical from the group.
“Wanted Dead or Alive”
Five years after their last group effort, Bon Jovi released “Crush” in June 2000 through Island Records, and became the first Bon Jovi album ever to be nominated for a Grammy award with “It’s My Life” becoming one of the group’s most successful songs to date.
They entered the studio again in spring 2002 and began recording their eighth studio album “Bounce,” which was influenced by the September 11 terrorist attacks.
“Have a Nice Day” was released in September 2005 and featured “Who Says You Can’t Go Home,” which peaked at No. 1 on the Billboard Hot Country Songs and earned Bon Jovi the “Best Country Collaboration with Vocals” Grammy award with Jennifer Nettles in February 2007.
A tour to accompany the catalog was a commercial success and grossed $191 million with the group playing to more than two million fans between 2005-2006.
The Lost Highway Tour, which began in October 2007 and ran through July 2008, was the highest-grossing tour of 2008 with ticket sales of $210 million.
Jon and Richie were inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in June 2009, and released their eleventh studio album with the band that same year, The Circle.
Forbes listed Jon as one of the world’s highest paid musicians, raking in approximately $125 million in 2011. At one point, Jon owned a professional arena football team in Pennsylvania, the Philadelphia Soul, and was ranked one of “The Most Powerful and Influential People in the Music Business.”
Sambora reportedly missed portions of the 2007 tour for a rehab stint following the end of his marriage to Heather Locklear. He returned for treatment once again in 2011 to address addiction issues.
“I’ll Be There For You”
In 2013, Sambora made the difficult decision to leave the band, which he later admitted was solely out of needing time to be with his family. Sambora and Locklear have a daughter named Ava.
He credited Bon Jovi’s intense tour schedule with barely being able to get face time with his family, and he said life on the road simply wasn’t sustainable.
“Luckily I was making enough money to be able to have a private plane, get my a– home and see my kid even if it was only for one day. If it was Halloween, it was boom, home,” he told People magazine in 2020.
“When I look back and start to list the tours… 18-and-a-half months of being on the road, 52 countries… It’s like, wow. It was really time for a break. We did that 14 times over a 31-year period,” he said.
The band was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2018 after earning the spot by winning the fan ballot with more than one million votes. Howard Stern gave the speech at the ceremony, and Jon invited Sambora and Such to perform with the band.
Jon revealed the band was recording its 15th studio album to be released in 2020, with an accompanying self-titled tour, which had to be postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The tour was later canceled and the album was released in October. On Jan. 7, the band announced the tour would begin again in April with shows across the country.
But the group hit a tragic note when Bon Jovi announced the death of Alec John Such, who died at the age of 70, on June 5.
“We are heartbroken to hear the news of the passing of our dear friend Alec John Such,” Bon Jovi posted on their Twitter account Sunday.
“He was an original. As a founding member of Bon Jovi, Alec was integral to the formation of the band. … To be honest, we found our way to each other thru him — He was a childhood friend of Tico [Torres] and brought Richie [Sambora] to see us perform. Alec was always wild and full of life. Today these special memories bring a smile to my face and a tear to my eye. We will miss him dearly.”
Tributes came pouring in on social media for the rock star, who has shared the stage with legendary musicians alike throughout a decades-long career, with Jon sharing the band’s tweet to his own account: “Alec, you will be missed.”
David Bryan wrote: “RIP my soul brother…. It was an honor and pleasure to share the stage and to share life with you…..”
Such played in The Message in the early ‘80s with Sambora before joining Bon Jovi. He left the group in 1994 due to feeling “burned out,” but reunited with the band for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony in 2018.
“When Jon Bon Jovi called me up and asked me to be in his band many years ago, I soon realized how serious he was, and he had a vision that he wanted to bring us to, and I am too happy to have been a part of that vision,” he said.
He continued: “These guys are the best. We had so many great times together and we wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for those guys. Love them to death and always will.”