BY SANTI GABINO JR.
SPECIAL TO THE BEACON
Whether your memories are of learning to skate on your own at the roller rink, sneaking your first kiss at the school dance, or crawling in through your bedroom window past curfew — chances are the music of Bon Jovi played a pivotal role in the events of your teenage years.
At 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, April 26, West Volusians are invited to relive the glory days of the power ballad when the Athens Theatre welcomes “Slippery When Wet, A Tribute to the Music of Jon Bon Jovi.”
While hanging out at local hot spots and idolizing fellow Jerseyites, such as Bruce Springsteen and the Asbury Jukes, Garden State native John Francis Bongiovi knew he was going to be a rock star.
By the time he was 16, he was a regular fixture at nightclubs. In high school, he met keyboardist David Bryan, and the two created a rhythm-and-blues band called Atlantic City Expressway.
He recorded his first single, “Runaway,” at his cousin’s studio in 1980. After a local radio station included the song on a mixtape, it gained frequent airplay and became a hit.
The success of “Runaway” got him on the radar of other musicians, and he soon joined forces with Alec John Such, Tico Torres and guitarist Richie Sambora.
In the mid-1980s, upon the urging of PolyGram executive Derek Shulman, he simplified the spelling of his last name and formed the band Bon Jovi, which quickly became known for soaring guitar riffs and catchy rock melodies.
The group’s self-titled debut album came out in January 1984 and rapidly climbed the charts to achieve gold status.
In April 1985, Bon Jovi released the follow-up album, 7800° Fahrenheit. A string of gigs opening for touring bands like the Scorpions, Kiss and Judas Priest helped the band build a considerable fan base that was drawn to the group’s rugged, soulful lyrics that sang the troubles of your average, lovestruck teenager.
Shortly afterward, the band released its third album, Slippery When Wet, which reached gold and platinum simultaneously within six weeks of its release.
Containing the (now) iconic songs “Livin’ on a Prayer,” “Wanted Dead or Alive” and “You Give Love a Bad Name,” the album sold more than 14 million copies. The band’s hit record was then in the same league as Michael Jackson’s Thriller.
Throughout the 1990s and 2000s, Bon Jovi released a string of hit albums, including Keep The Faith, Destination Anywhere, Crush, Bounce, Lost Highway, The Circle, What About Now, Burning Bridges, This House Is Not for Sale and many more!
In late 2017, Bon Jovi was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. For a band that began singing songs about teenage angst, their staying power has been nearly ageless.
On April 26, grab the blow-dryer, keep the pliers handy to tug on your tightest ripped jeans, get the gang together, and get ready to play your best air drums as Slippery When Wet, a tribute to the music of Jon Bon Jovi, takes the stage.
Shot through the heart and you’re to blame, darlin’ …. and, well, you know the rest.
Now, where can we find some Bartles & Jaymes wine coolers?
Tickets and more information can be found at www.AthensDeLand.com, or by calling the box office at 386-736-1500. Box-office hours are 1-5 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday, and 1 1/2 hours before live performances.