The History


Jon Bon Jovi began to play piano and guitar at thirteen, taking lessons from his neighbour, Al Perinello. At that same age, Bon Jovi founded his first band, called Raze. Jon enrolled in an all-boys Catholic school St. Joseph High School in Metuchen, New Jersey but left after pleading his case to his parents; he wanted to attend public school. He went on to attend Sayreville War Memorial High School. At sixteen, Bon Jovi met David Bryan (born David Bryan Rashbaum) and founded a 12-piece cover band with him named Atlantic City Expressway. They played at New Jersey clubs, even though they were minors. Still in his teens, Bon Jovi played in the band John Bongiovi and the Wild Ones, playing New Jersey clubs like "The Fast Lane" and opening for known acts in the area.

By the summer of 1982, out of school and working part-time, one of his jobs being in a shoestore, Jon took a job at the Power Station Studios, a Manhattan recording facility where his cousin, Tony Bon Jovi, was the co-owner. Bon Jovi made several demos (including one produced by Billy Squier) and sent them out to many record companies, but failed to make an impact.

In 1983, Bon Jovi visited the local radio station WAPP 103.5FM "The Apple" in Lake Success, New York. He spoke directly to the D.J., Chip Hobart, who suggested Bon Jovi let WAPP include the song "Runaway" on a compilation album of local homegrown talent. Bon Jovi was reluctant but eventually gave them the song on which Bon Jovi had used studio musicians to play on the track "Runaway" (which was written in 1980). The studio musicians who helped record "Runaway" were known as "The All Star Review." They were:

* Dave Sabo (guitar)
* Tim Pierce (guitar)
* Roy Bittan (keyboards)
* Frankie LaRocka (drums)
* Hugh McDonald (bass)
* [Billy Witch Doctor (musician/chicken raiser) (conga drums)

The song began to get airplay in the New York metro area, and then other sister stations in major markets began to play the song. Suddenly, all the record label A&R execs who had passed on the demo they had heard were scrambling to find out who this unsigned artist was. WAPP was doing showcases -- Bon Jovi now desperately needed a band. The soon-to-be-members of the band had crossed paths in their earlier days, but the current lineup didn't come together until March of 1983. Bon Jovi gave David Bryan a call, who in turn called bassist Alec John Such and experienced drummer Tico Torres.

Tapped to play lead guitar was Bon Jovi's neighbor, Dave Sabo (a.k.a. The Snake), who would later form the group Skid Row. One night after a show, Richie Sambora found Bon Jovi backstage and told him that he should be the guitarist. Bon Jovi wrote him off and didn't think much of it but told him to learn the material and show up for rehearsal. Sambora was early and knew the material and Bon Jovi was impressed; in that moment, Sambora became the band's lead guitarist and a musical dynamic duo was born.

Before joining the group, Sambora had toured with Joe Cocker, played with a group called Mercy and had just been called up to audition for Kiss. He also played on the album Lessons with the band Message, which was re-released on CD through Long Island Records in 1995. Message was originally signed to Led Zeppelin's Swan Song Records label, although the album was never released.

Tico Torres was also an experienced musician, having recorded with Miles Davis and playing live with Phantom's Opera, The Marvelettes, and Chuck Berry. He had played on 26 records and had recently recorded with Frankie and the Knockouts (a Jersey band with hit singles in the early 1980s).

David Bryan was a natural recruit. He had quit the band he and Bon Jovi founded and went to college for pre-med studies. While in college, he realized he wanted to pursue music full-time, eventually being accepted to Juilliard School, the prestigious New York music school. When Bon Jovi called his friend and said he was putting together a band and a record deal looked like it was about to become a reality, Bryan followed Bon Jovi's lead.

The Bon Jovi lineup, which would not change for a decade, was:

* Jon Bon Jovi (lead vocals, rhythm guitar)
* Richie Sambora (lead guitar, backing vocals)
* David Bryan (keyboard, backing vocals)
* Tico Torres (drums, percussion)
* Alec John Such (bass guitar, backing vocals)