By Jovi, Jon is still rockin’

AS BON JOVI AN­NOUNCE A NEW UK TOUR, TOM BRYANT TALKS TO THE BAND’S FRONT­MAN ABOUT MAR­RIAGE, BURNOUT AND HIS UN­FIN­ISHED BUSI­NESS AT WEM­B­LEY STA­DIUM

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AF­TER nearly 30 years to­gether, it’s one of the most en­dur­ing mar­riages in show­busi­ness.

For Jon Bon Jovi and his wife Dorothea, next year’s pearl an­niver­sary will prove a par­tic­u­larly poignant mo­ment in their lives.

In fact, Jon says he is more in love now than he was on their wed­ding day at Las Ve­gas’ Grace­land Wed­ding Chapel.

“I feel 10 times bet­ter to­day than when we did it back then,” Jon says.

“Look­ing back on it, the mar­riage was the great­est deal I ever made.”

Their cel­e­bra­tions will be par­tic­u­larly spe­cial given their lives to­gether got off to such a rocky start.

Dorothea be­came pub­lic en­emy num­ber one when her and Jon, then aged 27 and at the helm of the world’s big­gest band, se­cretly eloped to tie the knot.

It sparked mass hys­te­ria among his fe­male fans who were left dis­traught that the big-haired rocker was fi­nally taken.

“It was like Harry Styles or Justin Tim­ber­lake get­ting mar­ried. I was that to the young girls in my time,” Jon says. “When I came back from Ve­gas my man­ager was fu­ri­ous.

“He was like ‘Amer­ica’s boy is now mar­ried…that’s not a good ca­reer move’. The record com­pany was also de­spon­dent.”

Thirty years on from that fate­ful day in down­town Ve­gas, Jon, now 56, is able to laugh about it as he re­laxes in a pent­house suite in Soho, New York.

Jon says of his wife: “She is the rock of my fam­ily, my ca­reer, my be­ing. I am grate­ful for some­one in my life like that, that I can love and trust.”

Dorothea also proved to be a sta­bil­is­ing in­flu­ence dur­ing one of the tough­est times of his ca­reer when the band were left burnt out in the wake of the Slip­pery when Wet tour –1986-87.

Jon bit­terly strug­gled with de­pres­sion and dur­ing his low­est mo­ment briefly thought about end­ing it all and driv­ing his car off the road.

“The num­ber of shows was in­sane,” he says. “The bad thing was that our young team of agents and lawyers were so ea­ger to do their job, they never thought about the hu­man con­di­tion of the young lads who needed a break.

“We did 240 shows, went home and im­me­di­ately started writ­ing and record­ing (the al­bum) New Jer­sey. We then went back on the road with an­other 240 shows. It was just too much.”

Jon freely ad­mits the scars took a long time to heal with the band not talk­ing to each other for two years and com­ing close to break­ing-up.

“That’s not the recipe for suc­cess if you want a band to live. You can kill them on the road and the pres­sures of writ­ing a fol­low up to Slip­pery. Or you can have faith in them and say’ be cool, it’s go­ing to be al­right.’

“We should have been nur­tured and have had a year off. That’s the down­side of that era which I re­mem­ber too vividly. The burnout. It was a dif­fi­cult time.”

De­ter­mined to turn around the band’s for­tunes and en­sure they never im­ploded again, Jon de­cided to man­age Bon Jovi him­self – a de­ci­sion that was widely mocked at the time. The in­dus­try scoffed and said ‘you’re dead, you will never sur­vive’,” he says. “I was only 30 but I saw the clar­ity. I knew what I needed to do.”

Life on tour rolls along at more of a se­date pace these days than when they first started out, as fresh-faced 20-some­things.

As Jon re­turns to the UK for the first time in six years with dates at An­field, Wem­b­ley Sta­dium and Coven­try’s Ri­coh Arena, the en­ergy to put on a great show is still strong.

Jon un­der­stands the sig­nif­i­cance of per­form­ing at An­field – not least as he is good pals with Liver­pudlian leg­end Sir Paul McCart­ney, one of the last to play the iconic sport­ing venue more than a decade ago.

They met up last month and Jon shows me re­cent pic­tures of the pair of them on his mo­bile phone re­lax­ing on a sun-kissed ve­randa.

“Two old men sit­ting in a rock­ing chair,” Jon laughs as he scrolls through snaps of them re­lax­ing fol­low­ing a long lunch, one of “four or five” they en­joy each sum­mer.

“I have al­ways loved the Bea­tles – my mum had the records and I have been blessed over the years to have be­come friendly with Paul,” Jon says. “I am for­tu­nate to see him ev­ery sum­mer. I only ad­dress him as Bea­tle Paul. I don’t ad­dress him as Paul. I want to say Mr McCart­ney but I am a lit­tle too old for that.”

Jon says he also has un­fin­ished busi­ness un­der the Wem­b­ley arch.

“We closed the old Wem­b­ley and we were meant to open the new one – I even took a photo in front of the new one, in front of the build­ing,” he says. “I should have gone in and re­alised it was a con­struc­tion site.

“I am still mad at the con­trac­tors for not fin­ish­ing af­ter we sold out two nights and then had to dis­place 120,000 peo­ple (to re­ar­ranged gigs in Mil­ton Keynes).

“That was a real heart­breaker. That would have been a cool as­terix to close the old Wem­b­ley and open the new one – but it will be good to be back at last.”

We did 240 shows, went home and im­me­di­ately started writ­ing and record­ing... We then went back on the road with an­other 240 shows. It was just too much Jon Bon Jovi says the late 80s was one of the tough­est times of his ca­reer

Bon Jovi play An­field Sta­dium, Liv­er­pool, on June 19, Wem­b­ley Sta­dium, Lon­don, on June 21 and Ri­coh Arena, Coven­try, on June 23 2019. See live­na­tion.co.uk/ artist/bon-jovi-tick­ets for de­tails.

Front­man: Jon Bon Jovi Jon with his wife Dorothea

Jon on stage in a Slip­pery When Wet T-shirt in 1989

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