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Columbus Pre-Show Article 6 May 2001
"Bon Jovi no longer worries that critics won't like his songs"

Source: The Columbus Dispatch


Thursday, May 3, 2001
By Aaron Beck

In the late '80s, Rodney Dangerfield got more respect from pop culture highbrows than Bon Jovi did.

The New Jersey band's Bruce Springsteen-lite story songs and anthems and updated-Loverboy arena rock moved millions to buy records such as Slippery When Wet and New Jersey, and critics tended to write unkind words.

Back then, guitarist and lead singer Jon Bon Jovi read it all.

Now, he said recently from a tour stop, that he "rarely'' reads anything about his band, which also includes songwriting partner and lead guitarist Richie Sambora, drummer Tico Torres and keyboardist David Bryan. (Bassist Hugh McDonald replaced original bassist Alec John Such in the mid-'90s.)

"You wanted respect. You wanted credibility,'' Bon Jovi said. "In retrospect, you realize you can't demand it; you've got to earn it. Having been around 20 years . . . That's why people are going, 'I guess you can't beat 'em up anymore. We'll be nice to them now.' ''

Bon Jovi, 39, doesn't have as much time or desire anymore to ponder critical disdain or praise. The band has become part of his dual-performing life. Acting credits include Moonlight and Valentino, The Leading Man, Destination Anywhere, Pay It Forward and U- 571.

Bon Jovi spends downtime in his home in Red Bank, N.J., with his wife and two young children.

After solo albums by band members -- Bryan recently released his second, Lunar Eclipse -- and a lengthy layoff from touring, last summer, the band released its first studio album in five years, Crush.

For the first time, band members recorded the entire album in their home state, in Bon Jovi's home studio.

"We used to think that we had to go away to record,'' Bon Jovi said. "We thought we had to bond with the band and had to talk about music 24/7, had to have all the fun that record-making is. We did that for a long time and enjoyed that immensely. As I spent more time away from home and have gotten older and gotten other things going on in my life, it wasn't about who could be in the strip joint until 3 o'clock and still make it to the studio by 11. There were other things. Living out of a suitcase is not the most important thing anymore.''

On May 22, Bon Jovi will release its first live album, One Wild Night: Live 1985-2001. The single disc serves not as a greatest hits, said Bon Jovi, but as a collection of "specific moments, a snapshot of what our live shows entail.''

In addition to Bon Jovi standard fist-pumpers Bad Medicine and Runaway, the disc includes covers of Neil Young's Rockin' in the Free World and Boomtown Rats' I Don't Like Mondays, recorded with the Rats' Bob Geldof in 1995 at Wembley Stadium to mark the 10th anniversary of Live Aid. The group also culled songs from performances in clubs.

"Playing in a band like this, you always take for granted that they always sound great, that they have the best technology,'' Bon Jovi said. "Listen to Wanted Dead or Alive or Keep the Faith in a nightclub with 500 people and tell me that the band can't play, you know? There are album tracks on there that would never have been singles, but you can feel the energy of the crowds.

"Hard-core fans have wanted (the live disc) for a long time because our reputation was made being a live act. Even if you didn't care for the records, you'd come out of the show and go, 'Wow. A pretty good live rock 'n' roll band.' ''

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