Jon Bon Jovi began his music career in 1975, at the age of 13, playing piano and guitar with his first band 'Raze'. At 16, Bon Jovi met David Bryan and formed a band called "Atlantic City Expressway". Still in his teens, Bon Jovi played in the band "John Bongiovi and the Wild Ones," playing local clubs like "The Fast Lane," and opening for known acts in the area. By 1980, he formed another band, "The Rest", and opened up for New Jersey acts such as Southside Johnny and the Asbury Jukes.
Tico Torres was also an experienced musician, having recorded and played live with Phantom's Opera, The Marvelettes, and Chuck Berry. He appeared on 26 records and had recently recorded with Franke and the Knockouts, a Jersey band with hit singles during the early 1980s.
By mid-1982, out of school and working part-time at a women's shoe store, Jon Bon Jovi took a job at the Power Station Studios, a Manhattan recording facility where his cousin Tony Bongiovi was co-owner. Bon Jovi made several demos—including one produced by Billy Squier—and sent them to record companies, though failing to make an impact. His first professional recording was as lead vocals in "R2-D2 We Wish You a Merry Christmas," which was part of the Christmas in the Stars album which his cousin co-produced.
The song began to get airplay in the New York area, then other sister stations in major markets picked up the song. In March 1983, Bon Jovi called David Bryan, who in turn called Bassist Alec John Such and an experienced Drummer named Tico Torres, both formerly of the band Phantom's Opera. Tapped to play lead guitar was Bon Jovi's neighbor, Dave Sabo ("The Snake"), though he never officially joined the band. He and Jon promised each other that whoever made it first, would help out the other. Sabo later went on to form the group Skid Row. Jon saw and was impressed with hometown Guitarist Richie Sambora who was recommended by fellow Bassist Alec John Such and Drummer Tico Torres. Sambora had toured with Joe Cocker, played with a group called Mercy and had been called up to audition for Kiss. He also played on the album Lessons (originally intended for release in 1982; re-released on CD through Long Island Records in 1995) with the band Message, for which Alec John Such was the Bassist. Message was originally signed to Led Zeppelin's Swan Song Records label, although the album was never officially released at the time. Meanwhile, WAPP, the station that had first played "Runaway" worked with WOR-TV (now WWOR-TV) in nearby Secaucus, NJ on a music video show, Rock 9 Videos, for a short time in 1984.
The following year, the band released a box set entitled 100,000,000 Bon Jovi Fans Can't Be Wrong, the title being a homage to Elvis Presley's 50,000,000 Elvis Fans Can't Be Wrong. The set consisted of four CDs packed with 38 unreleased and 12 rare tracks, as well as a DVD. The box set marked the sales of 100 million Bon Jovi albums and also commemorated the 20th anniversary of the release of the band's first record in 1984. In November 2004, Bon Jovi was honored with the Award for Merit at the American Music Awards.
In 1985, Bon Jovi's second album 7800° Fahrenheit was released. The band released three singles "Only Lonely", "In and Out of Love" and the ballad "Silent Night". The album peaked at number thirty seven on Billboard 200 and certified Gold by RIAA. While the album did not do as well as they'd hoped in terms of sales, it allowed Bon Jovi to get out on the road touring again. In May 1985, Bon Jovi headlined venues in Japan and Europe. At the end of the European tour, the band began a six-month run of U.S. tour dates supporting Ratt. In the midst of that tour they managed to make appearances at the Texas Jam and Castle Donington's Monsters of Rock concerts in England. The band also performed at the very first Farm Aid in 1985.
By the end of 1986, Bon Jovi were well into six months of headline dates in arenas across America. In August 1987, they headlined England's Monsters of Rock festival. During their set, Dee Snider, Bruce Dickinson and Paul Stanley guested to perform "We're an American Band". The band ended the year having headlined 130 shows in the "Tour Without End", grossing $28,400,000. Asked what this breakthrough to worldwide fame meant, Jon Bon Jovi said, "Everything is bigger, and it moves twice as fast. You're recognized twice as often. This is bigger, the whole world gets bigger. You have to sell more records, be huger. You get smarter and you understand the Business a little more, so it's more responsibility. You understand it now, and you want to make sure everything goes right".
Determined to prove that the success of Slippery When Wet was not a fluke, Bon Jovi released their fourth effort New Jersey in September 1988. New Jersey peaked at number one in the U.S., Canada, UK, Ireland, New Zealand and Australia. The album produced five Top 10 hits on the Billboard Hot 100, giving Bon Jovi the record for the most Top 10 singles spawned by a hard rock album. Two of the hits, "Bad Medicine" and "I'll Be There for You", managed to reach number one. The album's three other singles "Born to Be My Baby", "Lay Your Hands on Me", and "Living in Sin" reached the top ten. Bon Jovi even made the news when the video for "Living In Sin" was banned by MTV for featuring some too racy romance/sex scenes. After that it was re-edited and MTV put it in heavy rotation.
In September 1989, Jon Bon Jovi and Sambora performed 'Livin' On A Prayer' and 'Wanted Dead Or Alive' with only acoustic guitars on the 1989 MTV Video Music Awards. The performance has been acknowledged as the inspiration for the MTV Unplugged series and a catalyst for the subsequent popularity of the unplugged movement in pop music.
During the band's first sabbatical between 1990–1991 Jon Bon Jovi recorded a solo album, Blaze of Glory, a Soundtrack to the movie Young Guns II. Released in 1990, the title track, "Blaze of Glory" peaked at number one on the Billboard Hot 100. In 1991 "Blaze of Glory" won an award for Favorite Pop/Rock Single at the American Music Awards and awarded a Golden Globe, as well. The song also earned Jon Bon Jovi an Academy Award nomination and a Grammy nomination.
Richie Sambora, with the help of Tico Torres and David Bryan, released a solo album entitled Stranger In This Town, in 1991. The album featured Eric Clapton on the song "Mr. Bluesman". David Bryan recorded a Soundtrack for the horror movie The Netherworld, which was the brighter part of that year after he was hospitalized with an illness caused by a South American parasite. Alec John Such took a fall off his motorcycle, injuring his bass-playing hand and forcing him to develop a whole new way to hold and play his instrument.
Bon Jovi's fifth studio album Keep the Faith was released in November 1992, representing "the beginning of a new chapter in the history of Bon Jovi" and marking a change in the band's sound and image. The album turned away from heavy drums and wild guitar solos, but instead introduced a more mature sound of Bon Jovi and contained more serious lyrics. The media focused considerable attention on Jon Bon Jovi’s hair. When Jon Bon Jovi cut his hair he made headlines on CNN. To promote Keep The Faith they returned to their roots playing a few dates at the small New Jersey clubs where they had started their career. The band appeared on MTV Unplugged but that was different from the other episodes of MTV Unplugged series. The performance captures Bon Jovi in an intimate, "in the round" experience, performing acoustic and electric renditions of classic hits (Bon Jovi and non-Bon Jovi tracks) and new material from Keep the Faith. The concert was released commercially in 1993 as Keep the Faith: An Evening with Bon Jovi.
In October 1994, Bon Jovi released a greatest hits album titled Cross Road, with two new tracks: "Always" and "Someday I'll Be Saturday Night". The first single from the album "Always" became Bon Jovi's highest selling single and stayed on top ten of the Billboard Hot 100 for six months. In the UK, Cross Road became the best-selling album of 1994. That year Bon Jovi won an award for Best Selling Rock Band at the World Music Awards.
Bon Jovi's sixth studio album, These Days, was released in June 1995, during which time the band on European tour. The album debuted at number one in UK and spent four consecutive weeks at the top position. The album also reached number one in Ireland, Germany, Australia, Japan and many other countries. The album's first single was the rhythm and blues influenced ballad "This Ain't a Love Song". With an exotic video filmed in Thailand, "This Ain't a Love Song" reached top twenty on the Billboard Hot 100, and was the only significant U.S. hit from the album, however, the album produced four UK top ten hits ("This Aint A Love Song", "Something for the Pain", "Lie to Me" and "These Days"). That year the band earned a BRIT Award for best international band and also won a MTV Europe Music Award for Best Rock. It was followed by These Days Tour. In June 1995, Bon Jovi sold out three-nights at London's historical Wembley Stadium. The concerts were documented for Bon Jovi: Live From London. Bon Jovi visited 43 countries and performed 126 shows on These Days Tour.
In 1997, Jon Bon Jovi landed lead roles in several movies. While he was free between filming movies, Jon wrote what would become his second solo album, 1997's Destination Anywhere. A short movie of the same name was recorded around the record's release, based entirely on the songs from the record and starring Jon Bon Jovi, Demi Moore, Kevin Bacon and Whoopi Goldberg.
Tico Torres used the opportunity to further pursue his painting while David Bryan started writing and composing various musicals. In 1998, Richie Sambora released his second solo outing titled Undiscovered Soul.
After a nearly four-year hiatus, during which several band members worked on independent projects, Bon Jovi regrouped in 1999 to begin work on their next studio album. In June 2000, Crush was released as the band's seventh studio album and constituted something of a comeback. The first single "It's My Life" was noted as one of the group’s most successful releases in a decade and most importantly, becoming a symbol of the band's longevity as they prevailed through many different changes in the mainstream rock scene with admirable success. It's My Life helped introduce them to a new, younger fan base. The band received two Grammy nominations for Best Rock Album Crush and Best Rock Performance by Duo/Group "It's My Life". The video for "It's My Life" won the My VH1 Music Awards for "My Favorite Video".
Bon Jovi played two sold-out concerts at London's historic Wembley Stadium in August 19, 20, 2000, becoming the last ever concerts held at the legendary venue before its demolition. That year the band played to 1.1 million fans in 40 arena and stadium venues across North America, Europe and Japan. While on tour, Bon Jovi released a collection of live performances from throughout their career in an album entitled One Wild Night Live 1985–2001. This was Bon Jovi's first-ever live album. The songs were culled from archives of recorded material the band had been collecting from their earliest days on the road right through the current tour. The band sold out two homecoming concerts at New Jersey's Giants Stadium in July 27, 28, 2001. The broadcast broke ratings records for the VH-1 network. At the end of the year Bon Jovi awarded for "Hottest Live Show" at the 2001 My VH1 Music Awards.
In spring 2002, the group entered the studio to begin recording their eighth studio album. Bounce was influenced by the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, released on October 8, 2002. The album debuted at number two in both the U.S. and UK. The band went on the Bounce Tour for the album, during which they made history as the last band to play Veterans Stadium in Philadelphia before it was torn down.
Following the end of the Bounce Tour in August 2003, Bon Jovi embarked on a side project; originally intending to produce an album consisting of live acoustic performances, the band ended up rewriting, re-recording and reinventing 12 of their biggest hits in a new and much different light. Bon Jovi's compilation album This Left Feels Right was released in November 2003.
Soon after the release of Have A Nice Day, the band started gearing up for the new 2005–2006 worldwide Have A Nice Day Tour. This tour, took the band to numerous stages and stadiums throughout the world. The tour was a significant commercial success, as the group played to 2,002,000 fans, and the tour grossed a total $191 million. The tour was the third-highest-grossing tour of 2006 taking in just over $131 million, just behind The Rolling Stones' A Bigger Bang World Tour and Madonna's Confessions Tour. On November 14, 2006, Bon Jovi were inducted into the UK Music Hall of Fame alongside James Brown and Led Zeppelin.
In October 2007 the band announced the Lost Highway Tour. Starting with the 10 shows to open the brand new, Newark, New Jersey Prudential Center, the band toured Canada, Japan, Australia, New Zealand, the U.S. and then Europe, finishing in the summer of 2008. The tour was the highest grossing tour of 2008 in Billboard's rankings, with ticket sales of $210.6 million, reported from November 14, 2007 through Nov.11, 2008. In all, 2,157,675 tickets were sold during 2008. Combined with $16.4 million in 2007 from the Newark shows, making a combined gross of $227 million in ticket sales. In Pollstar's calculus for North America, the Lost Highway Tour had the highest gross for 2008 at $70.4 million.
The album, described by Jon Bon Jovi as a "Bon Jovi album influenced by Nashville", topped the charts in U.S., Canada, Europe, and Japan. The album's third single "Till We Ain't Strangers Anymore" features LeAnn Rimes and won the CMT Music Award for the Collaborative Video of the Year in 2008. The song was also nominated for the Academy of Country Music Award for Vocal Event of the Year.
On November 10, 2009, the band released their eleventh studio album, entitled The Circle. The Circle is a return to rock n' roll after their Nashville influenced album, Lost Highway. The album debuted at number one in the U.S., Canada, Germany and Japan. Bon Jovi headed out on the road once again on February 19, 2010, embarking on The Circle Tour. Bon Jovi kicked off the stadium leg of the Circle Tour by making history. They played the first ever show at the brand new New Meadowlands Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey. The three sold out shows on May 26, 27 and 29, 2010 were a huge success. Bon Jovi's 12 night run at London's O2 Arena grossed $18,178,036 and seen them play to 187,696 fans. The Circle Tour was the highest-grossing concert tour of 2010 according to Billboard's annual Top 25 concert tours. So far the tour has played to 1,909,234 fans and has grossed $201.1 million from more than 80 venues reported to Pollstar. For the second time in three years, Bon Jovi ranked as Billboard's & Pollstar's Top Touring Act of the Year. Bon Jovi was also ranked second on Forbes magazine's list of the world's highest paid Musicians, earning an approximate $125 million income that year.
Bon Jovi released a greatest hits album with four new songs in October 2010. The album debuted at number one in Canada, Ireland, Europe, Australia and made the top five in twenty countries. At the 2010 MTV Europe Music Awards, Bon Jovi received the Global Icon Award. In October 2010, Bon Jovi released the concert film, "The Circle Tour Live From Jersey" in U.S. theaters. At the same time, the band announced their upcoming tour. At the conclusion of 2011, the tour placed second on Billboard's annual, "Top 25 Tour", earning more than £790 million dollars.
In 2012, the band members embarked on solo projects once again while recording What About Now. Returning to film composing for the first time since Blaze of Glory, Jon Bon Jovi wrote and recorded two songs for the Al Pacino film Stand Up Guys, while Richie Sambora recorded and released his third studio album, Aftermath of the Lowdown, and supported it with a short world tour in October 2012. Tico Torres focused on playing golf, taking part in several tournaments, while David Bryan made a short performance at Fantiscritti, Carrara on May 26, 2012.
On April 2, 2013, Richie Sambora departed the band's ongoing tour for unspecified "personal reasons"; Phil X once again replaced him, this time for the remainder of the tour, amidst rumours that Sambora had been fired. Both Sambora and Jon Bon Jovi later denied the claim. Tico Torres was also sidelined briefly due to emergency gallbladder surgery; he was replaced by Rich Scannella from Bon Jovi's solo band, the Kings of Suburbia, from September 20 to October 6.
In November 2014, Jon Bon Jovi told a reporter that Richie Sambora had officially left the band, saying "He's quit. He's gone. No hard feelings." That November, he also revealed that he was finishing writing songs for the band's next studio album, their first without Sambora, who was unofficially replaced by touring Guitarist Phil X. Sambora has since stated that "There's no bad blood with me any more. I love Jon, and I still see the possibility of a return."
A Bon Jovi consultant confirmed that a new studio album is still planned to be released in 2016 followed by a world tour. On September 30, 2015, Jon Bon Jovi announced during a press conference that the title of their upcoming album will be This House Is Not for Sale. In the article, he said the following "The record is about our integrity. Integrity matters and we're at a place in our career where we don't have anything left to prove."
The album's lead single, "This House Is Not for Sale" featuring a music video was released August 12, 2016, which also featured the promotion of unofficial members Hugh McDonald and Phil X to full-time band members. On November 4, 2016, the band officially released their 13th studio album, This House Is Not for Sale, which was followed by their third live album, This House Is Not for Sale – Live from the London Palladium, released on December 16, 2016.
In November 2016, Island Records and Universal Music Enterprises released Bon Jovi's studio albums in remastered versions on vinyl, spanning their 32-year career from Bon Jovi (1984) up until What About Now (2013). On February 10, 2017, a 25-LP box set titled Bon Jovi: The Albums was released. It consists of Bon Jovi's 13 studio albums, the compilation Burning Bridges (2015), the two Jon Bon Jovi solo albums (Blaze of Glory and Destination Anywhere), and an exclusive Extras album featuring "international rarities".