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
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.”
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.
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
Frontman: Jon Bon Jovi Jon with his wife Dorothea
Jon on stage in a Slippery When Wet T-shirt in 1989