Jon Bon Jovi's Opening Act

Tells 60 Minutes "I Haven't Had A Bad Year Since The Doctor Slapped Me On The Ass"

This story was first published on May 18, 2008. It was updated on July 4, 2009.

When you mention the name Bon Jovi, you are really talking about two things: it's the name of one of the most famous rock bands in the world, and it's also the name of its front man and lead singer, Jon Bon Jovi.

Either way, after a quarter of a century in the spotlight, you're still talking about one of the most successful acts in music history.

Since emerging from the clubs of the New Jersey shore a decade after Bruce Springsteen, Bon Jovi has sold just as many records around the world, but without the fanfare and critical acclaim.

And, as 60 Minutes correspondent Steve Kroft first reported last spring, none of it would have happened without the founder, Jon Bon Jovi: show man, salesman, philanthropist, sportsman and clear-eyed CEO, who is very much an anomaly in the music business.



On a hot New Jersey day in July 2007, Giants Stadium in the Meadowlands was packed for a Live Earth benefit featuring some of the most famous rock stars on the planet. A few thousand feet overhead, Jon Bon Jovi-one of the main headliners and the crowd's favorite-was surveying his domain.

"This is my hometown stadium. I'm so crazy about this building," he said.

And with good reason: in this day and age there are only a handful of groups that can fill a football stadium, and Bon Jovi has done it at Giants Stadium eight times.

A half an hour later, he was on the ground and in the dressing room chugging little bottle of Ginseng, as the rest of the band went through its pre-concert routine.

After a few pictures with his fans, more than 50,000 people would get what they had been waiting for.

It was the beginning of another good run in a very long career that has been full of them. His tenth album, "Lost Highway," was number one on the Billboard charts, and he was just beginning another world tour that ended up grossing more than a quarter if a billion dollars over fourteen months.

"This has been a very good year for you," Kroft remarked.

"I haven't had a bad year since the doctor slapped me on the ass, you know," Bon Jovi joked, laughing.

He's not bragging - he's just commenting on his own incredible good luck. He was born John Francis Bongiovi an hour's drive from the Meadowlands to a father who was a Marine-turned-hairdresser and a mother who was a Marine-turned-Playboy Bunny. It explains the good looks and the discipline he needed to survive the stigma of being one of the original 1980s hair bands.

"You've got to laugh and have some fun with it. I've jokingly said I'm responsible for the hole in the ozone layer," Bon Jovi joked.

He's still trying to live it down, and it has probably hasn't helped his street cred.

Asked if he has gotten the respect that's due, Bon Jovi told Kroft, "Well that depends on how do you want to define the word respect. Is longevity respect? Is coming home and having your family be proud of you respect? I don't know if what you're asking me is, critical acclaim, you know? There are critic's darlings. That I won't be. I got that."

When Bon Jovi's third album, "Slippery When Wet," debuted in 1986, Rolling Stone wrote that it sounded like "bad fourth generation metal," and neglected to mention a cut that would soon become a rock anthem.

That song was "Livin' On A Prayer;" the album sold 25 million copies and Bon Jovi got the last laugh.

"One of the biggest albums of all time is called 'Slippery When Wet.' If 'Livin' On a Prayer' hasn't crossed generations and had its influence on this culture and isn't the biggest karaoke song or stadium song that's its up there with anyone ever, let me know. Because it's just obviously not the truth," he told Kroft.

He followed it up with six more platinum albums and enough hits to make his sold out concerts among the hottest tickets in the music industry.

In a business that's struggling to survive, Bon Jovi is still a cash cow and no one works harder at it. He does four or five two and a half hour shows per week when he's on the road, with only a couple of two minute breaks to change clothes and cool off before going back on stage.

"I have to think every night like, I'm a prize fighter going out on that stage, that it's gonna be the last fight. You'd think, why would I beat myself up like that after 25 years?" Bon Jovi asked. "'Cause you want to be the best. I don't want to think that anyone's coming in there and gonna be better tomorrow night."

That blue collar work ethic to put on the best show possible has won him a loyal audience that generally prefers beer to wine, knows what they like, and could care less about the cognoscenti.

Bon Jovi likes to think that they are drawn to his honest, optimistic music, but he is not oblivious to his sex appeal, which is why he wears those tight jeans for all the ladies on their night out.

  • CBSNews

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