No one dominated the middle to late 1980s quite like Jon Bon Jovi did. Every dude in America wanted to be his best friend, and every girl the world over wanted to be his best friend, too.
Jon Bon Jovi began playing piano and guitar at the age of 13. Idolizing local rising stars such as Bruce Springsteen and the Asbury Jukes, Jon was playing in clubs by the time he was 16. He met keyboardist David Bryan in high school, and the two formed a ten-piece rhythm and blues band called Atlantic City Expressway. Jon also performed with bands called The Rest, The Lechers and John Bongiovi and the Wild Ones.
In 1980, Jon recorded his first single, Runaway, at his cousin’s studio, with back-up by studio musicians. A local radio station included the song on a compilation tape, and it began to get frequent airplay. The success of Runaway got Jon noticed, and he realized that he’d need more than session players if he wanted to capitalize on his success.
Jon gave David a call, who in turn tapped Alec John Such, Tico Torres and guitarist Richie Sambora. During a show in New York in 1983, the band caught the attention of record executive Derek Shulman, who signed them to PolyGram. It was Shulman who anglicized John Bongiovi’s name to Bon Jovi.