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Big hair maybe, but are Bon Jovi really the biggest rock band? 29 June 2010
Irish Times article

Source: Irish Times

Bon Jovi claim to be the biggest rock band on the planet, but where does that leave Springsteen or U2? And what comes into the equation when the sums are being done, asks BRIAN BOYD

THE PROMOTIONAL material for Bon Jovi’s current two week residency at London’s O2 Arena describes the New Jersey rockers as “the biggest rock band on the planet”.

Given the emotions Bon Jovi arouse in most rock critics (ranging from cynical detachment to outright hatred), the grandiosity of the claim and the nerdy, fact-checking nature of the more dedicated rock music fan, such an inflammatory claim has sparked a heated debate on music forums. Driven in the first place by a very intelligent discussion on the website of the esteemed music magazine, Word (, the bald statement “biggest rock band on the planet” is now the subject of a forensic-like examination.

What are the criteria? How much weighting is given to album sales as opposed to tour sales? Does current chart profile count? Should it? What about Springsteen, U2, The Stones? Reviews and critical acclaim? How dare a bunch of unfashionable big hair rockers make this claim, etc.

At the more reasonable end of the argument a consensus is emerging that rock music needs a type of Duckworth Lewis method to accurately answer this question. The Duckworth Lewis method is a mathematical formula used in cricket to predict the outcome of a match which can’t be completed for whatever reason.

Even before getting close to coming up with a formula, there needs to be “talks about talks”. Given that we’re talking rock band here, we can rule out the likes of Lady GaGa and Madonna. But is the term “rock” flexible enough to take in everyone who should be under consideration.


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