“Don’t get too comfortable with who you are at any given time – you may miss the opportunity to become who you want to be.”
Jon Bon Jovi
John Francis Bongiovi, Jr. was born on March 2, 1962, in Perth Amboy, NJ. His father, John Francis Bongiovi, Sr., was a barber who migrated from Sciacca, Sicily. John grew up in New Jersey and spent his summers with his grandparents in Erie, PA. When thinking about his youth, John has said, “Any Sunday afternoon you hear any Italian guy singing in the kitchen, stirring the pot. I always loved singing since I was a young boy.”
During middle and high school, John would often skip class to play music with his friends. His cousin Tony Bongiovi owned The Power Station – a famous recording studio in New York City – and John was a frequent visitor. By the time he was 16, he was playing gigs up and down the New Jersey coast and in New York City. Shortly thereafter, John joined a R&B band called Atlantic City Expressway where he met keyboardist David Bryan.
In June 1982 John recorded the single “Runaway” under the stage name Jon Bon Jovi. It was an instant hit on local radio stations. Mercury Records gave him a recording contract the following year, and Jon called upon his friend David Bryan to start a band. Following the pattern of last-name bands Van Halen and Dokken, the group decided to call themselves Bon Jovi. They found international fame with the release of their third album Slippery When Wet (which was the #1 selling album of 1987). Bon Jovi continues to tour and see success in their musical efforts. They recently released its 12th studio album – What About Now – and have plans to release another album next year.
Jon has had a long history of philanthropic work. He has worked with and participated in fundraising efforts for the Special Olympics, American Red Cross, Habitat for Humanity, Project H.O.M.E., Angel Network Foundation, as well as other groups. In 2006, he founded the Jon Bon Jovi Soul Foundation which works to “combat issues that force families and individuals into economic despair.” In 2011 the foundation opened the JBJ Soul Kitchen in Red Bank, NJ, where no one is turned away. Diners contribute either volunteer hours or a monetary donation for their meals. Another Soul Kitchen is scheduled to open this year in Toms River, NJ.
While on tour in 1989, Jon took a secret trip to Las Vegas where he married his high school sweetheart Dorothea Hurley. They have four children: Stephanie Rose, Jesse James Louis, Jacob Hurley, and Romeo Jon. He has said on the topic of family: “…if they don’t hold it as their most important treasure they could or should – I think that family is very important.”