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Bon Jovi Back In the Groove 10 July 2001
Minneapolis Pre-show Article from Star Tribune

Source: Minneapolis Star Tribune

It's been a long time since Jon BonJovi and his bandmates were living on a prayer, but 18 years after forming in Sayreville, N.J., the rock outfit still is vital. Last year's "Crush," BonJovi's eighth album and first band release in five years, debuted at No. 9 on the Billboard charts and has sold more than 2 million copies. The album's first single, "It's My Life" -- whose radio-friendly sonic oomph came courtesy of Backstreet Boys and Britney Spears producer Max Martin -- brought BonJovi to a new legion of Top 40 fans.

The group performed at the Super Bowl in January and will be on NBC's "Macy's Fourth of July Fireworks Spectacular" special on Wednesday, while its new concert album, "One Wild Night: Live 1985-2001" -- inspired by request letters from fans -- opened at No. 20 on the charts. And BonJovi plays a sold-out show Monday at Target Center in Minneapolis.

Mind you, things still aren't quite at the mania level of the mid-'80s, when BonJovi's "Slippery When Wet" album went 12 times platinum and the follow-up, "New Jersey," topped 7 million in sales. But BonJovi says the band -- which includes guitarist Richie Sambora, keyboardist David Bryan and drummer Ticco Torres -- no longer feels a need to measure its achievements strictly by sales.

"I'm not gonna lose my record deal if they don't sell 100 copies; that's just the honest economics of it," says BonJovi, 38, who also has a successful film career that includes roles in "Moonlight and Valentino," "The Leading Man" and "U-571." "When you've sold 100 million records, you can pretty much do what you want, at least this time.

"But I sure do hope people like 'em [the band's albums]. We're never gonna sell what 'N Sync, Britney and Eminem are doing. But that's OK. It's a marathon; I'm not going anywhere."


"Crush" was its own kind of marathon, in fact. BonJovi didn't plan to take five years between albums; the group's last effort, 1995's "These Days," was another Top 10 hit in the United States and even debuted at No. 1 in England. The group did plan a break after its release for BonJovi to act and record a solo album (1997's "Destination Anywhere"), for Torres to exhibit some paintings and for Sambora to release a solo album (1998's "Undiscovered Soul") and marry actress Heather Locklear.

The group reconvened in 1997, with BonJovi bringing about 30 songs to the table. But the time off was extended by extra-musical factors: The group's label, Mercury, became part of the massive Universal Music Group conglomeration, and the band decided to wait until things settled down; and then Bruce Fairbairn, who had agreed to co-produce the album with Bob Rock, died while producing a Yes album in his studio in Vancouver, British Columbia.

Meanwhile, BonJovi acknowledges, he found himself looking at the charts and wondering, "Where do I fit in? From a guy that's in an American white rock 'n' roll band from New Jersey, how do I fit in with Sisqo and Redman and Method Man?"

His bandmates, however, weren't particularly stressed out about it.

"We're all right, and not in a cocky way," says keyboardist Bryan, who this year released a solo album, "Lunar Eclipse." "If you start looking, like, 'Where are the trends? Who do we got to be?' ... I've got an idea: Why don't we be ourselves? We've created this great fan base for 16, 18, however many years; I don't think things like that go away. You just put out your best effort, write the best songs you can and work [hard] ... to make it right, and you hope people will be there for it."

Still, BonJovi thought it prudent to wait until certain things were in place to release "Crush."

"Until the dust settled, until the division of the labels was settled, I held onto the album and waited until we got the right production team and wrote 30 more songs," he says.


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