March 2: Jon Bon Jovi is 49 today.

Born John Francis Bongiovi, Jr. in Perth Amboy, New Jersey, Jon is best known as the lead singer and founder of Bon Jovi. Both his parents were Marines, and Jon has said he is a blood relative of Frank Sinatra.

Throughout his career, he has released two solo albums and eleven studio albums with his band which have sold over 130 million albums worldwide.
As a solo artist, Bon Jovi has numerous awards for his work, including a Golden Globe and an Academy Award nomination for his solo hit, "Blaze of Glory." He was awarded an honorary Doctorate of Humanities from Monmouth University in 2001. He was ranked 31st in the Hit Parader's top Metal vocalists of All Time.


In his youth, Bon Jovi spent most of his playing in local bands with friends and his cousin Tony Bongiovi, who owned the then famous New York recording studio, The Power Station. By the time he was 16, Bon Jovi was playing clubs. It was not long before he hooked up with keyboardist David Bryan, who played with him in a ten-piece rhythm and blues band called Atlantic City Expressway. Bon Jovi also performed with bands called The Rest, The Lechers and John Bongiovi and the Wild Ones.

When he was seventeen, Bon Jovi was working sweeping floors at his cousin Tony Bongiovi's recording studio. In 1980, when Meco was there recording Christmas in the Stars: The Star Wars Christmas Album, Bongiovi recommended Bon Jovi for the song "R2-D2 We Wish You A Merry Christmas." This became his first professional recording (credited as John Bongiovi) He left in 1983 when he got a record deal.
Jon Bon Jovi recorded a song, Runaway, one of a few songs John wrote during his bus travels from Sayreville to The Power Station. He went to several record companies, but they all turned him down.
Jon Bon Jovi visited major rock station WAPP 103.5FM "The Apple" in New York City. He spoke directly to the promotion director John Lassman, who accepted the song "Runaway" for inclusion on the station's compilation album of local homegrown talent. Bon Jovi was initially reluctant to have it included but eventually gave them the song on which Bon Jovi had used studio musicians to play on the track.
"Runaway" became a local hit on the charts. Mercury Records offered Bon Jovi a recording contract in 1983, and  Bon Jovi invited Richie Sambora, David Bryan, Tico Torres and Alec John Such to join the band. While trying to decide on a name, (and rejecting "Johnny Lightning"), one of the group suggested "Bon Jovi," slightly changing the spelling of Jon's last name.

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Bon Jovi Greatest Hits

The band's debut album, Bon Jovi, was released on January 21, 1984. The album went gold in the US. In 1985, Bon Jovi's second album 7800°Fahrenheit was released, but did not do well. 

Bon Jovi first started to make it big after when they brought in songwriter Desmond Child for their third album, Slippery When Wet. With Child co-writing many of their hits on this and future albums the band shot to super-stardom around the world with songs such as "You Give Love a Bad Name," "Livin' On A Prayer," and "Wanted Dead or Alive." The album has sold in excess of 28 million copies worldwide since its release in late 1986.

The next album from Bon Jovi, New Jersey was released in 1988. The album was recorded very shortly after the tour for Slippery, was a huge commercial success, with hit songs such as "Bad Medicine," "Lay Your Hands on Me" and "I'll Be There for You."

Despite the band achieving massive success, New Jersey almost led to the end of the band after returning to the road so soon after the heavy touring for their previous album. This constant living on the road almost destroyed the strong bond between the band members. At the end of the tour, each band member went their separate way, even departing in separate jets after the tour ended in Guadalajara, Mexico in early 1990.

The album Keep the Faith was released in November 1992. Produced by Bob Rock, the album introduced a more "rock n roll"-driven sound. In 1994, Bon Jovi released a "greatest hits" album titled Cross Road, which also contained two new tracks: the hit singles "Always" and "Someday I'll Be Saturday Night."
"Always" spent six months on the Top 10 of the Billboard Hot 100 and became one of Bon Jovi's all-time biggest hits. That same year, bassist Alec John Such left the band, the first and only lineup change since Bon Jovi began. Hugh McDonald, who was the bassist on "Runaway," unofficially replaced Such as bassist.

Their sixth studio album These Days was released in June 1995 to the most critical acclaim that the band had ever received. The record as a whole was darker and more downbeat than usual. By 1996, Bon Jovi had established themselves as a "force" in the music industry.

Bon Jovi regrouped in 1999 to begin work on their next studio album. Their 2000 release, Crush, enjoyed overwhelming success all around the world, thanks in part to the smash-hit single "It's My Life."
In late 2002, Bounce, the band's next album, did not enjoy the level of success of its predecessor, but did produce hit singles such as "Everyday" and the title track.

Bon Jovi's ninth studio album, Have a Nice Day, was released in September 2005. "Have A Nice Day" was the first single off the new album and the second single from the album "Who Says You Can't Go Home," was released in the U.S. in the spring of 2006.

In the U.S. a duet version of "Who Says You Can't Go Home" with country singer Jennifer Nettles of the band Sugarland was released. In May 2006, Bon Jovi made history by becoming the first Rock & Roll Band to have a #1 hit on Billboard's Hot Country Chart. On February 11, 2007, Bon Jovi also won a Grammy Award, for "Best Country Collaboration with Vocals" for "Who Says You Can't Go Home."

In June 2007, Bon Jovi released their studio album, Lost Highway. The album debuted at number #1 on the Billboard charts, the first time that Bon Jovi have had a number one album on the US charts since the release of New Jersey in 1988.

Jon Bon Jovi recorded a solo album, a soundtrack to the movie Young Guns II (in which he also appeared for less than a second), more commonly known as Blaze of Glory. Released in 1990, the album featured Elton John, Aldo Nova, Little Richard, and Jeff Beck, among others. The album fared well commercially and received very positive reviews and quickly achieved double platinum status.

The title track, "Blaze of Glory," hit number one on the Billboard Hot 100 and earned Jon an Academy Award nomination for Best Song. "Blaze of Glory" was awarded a Golden Globe.

In 1997, Jon wrote what would become his second solo album, Destination Anywhere. The album received very positive reviews and was a success across Europe. That year Jon Bon Jovi earned a BRIT Award for Best International Male and also won a MTV Europe Music Award for Best Male Artist.

The Jon Bon Jovi Soul Foundation (formerly the Philadelphia Soul Charitable Foundation) was founded in 2006 and exists to combat issues that force families and individuals into economic despair. Through the funding and creation of programs and partnerships, they support innovative community efforts to break the cycle of poverty and homelessness.