miércoles, 19 de mayo de 2010
ALL AMERICAN TRUE BELIEVER
From the Sunday Express, 18.05.03
Jon Bon Jovi has been making women go weak at the knees for 2 decases but as he hits 40, he sees a higher significance in his rock & roll life story
When a rock star hits 40, life can become a bizarra mix of the hedonistic and the mundane. There is still all the usual falling out of lap dancing clubs at 3am to be done, but also the day-to-day practicalities of raising a young family, so how does Jon feel about beginning his 5th decade? "I'd never thought about it" he says of the landmark. "But when I got there, I looked around the room and saw my band, my family & friends and the accomplishments came into focus for a moment. That was great."
In 20 years, Bon Jovi have shifted 70 million albums on the back of worldwide hits like PRAYER, FAITH, BLAZE OF GLORY and numerous other songs about facing adversity and pulling thru. Tight trousers and big hair in the 80s have given way to tight trousers and more respectable hair today for Jon, Richie Sambora, Tico Torres and David Bryan, who came together when a demo of Jon's became a radio hit in 1982 and he needed a band to play it live.
Always the looker, Jons appeal has often threatened to reach beyond music. His on-off acting career received a boost with a role as calista flockhart's hunky-yet-sensitive plumber in Ally McBeal and he recently turned down a West End play to tour. Frustrated by his relative lack of success after 10 years studying acting, he still refuses to take the obvious roles as a rock star. "Those are the decisions I made, that shows how smart I am" he sighs, deadpan.
He married Dorothea Hurley in 1989 and they have 3 children, 9-year-old Stephanie, 7-year-old Jesse and new baby Jacob. They live in New Jersey, where Jon grew up 23 minutes from New York. Now, sitting in a plush London hotel room, midway thru a world tour, teeth as white as snow, army jacket, cowboy boots and a huge pair of shades, he is every inch the rock star and looks half his age. There is a vicious rumour that he so hates people looking him in the eye that his entourage are ordered to turn away when addressing him. Let's choose the legend over the truth and assume we have made a breakthrough when, after 5 minutes, the glasses are off to reveal baby blues.
He writes songs about beating the odds, but he is now a multimillionaire rockstar with all the trappings. Sounds tough. "I tell you, man" he begins semi-irritably "you want to talk about struggle, go try and be a movie star! That's humbling. I have the exuberance of my youth and the wisdom of my experience but believe me, those doors are not opening in Hollywood. And I have to sit here and talk to you guys eight hours a day, seven days a week going 'Nice to see ya, play my record, how you doing?' This is hard work."
It's a playful rant but its clear that events have left him wanting to spend less time on such frivolous pursuits. Monmouth co, where Jon lives, suffered the worst losses in Jersey, nearly 150 people, on September 11 and several tracks on the latest album BOUNCE deal with the 9-11 aftermath. It is typical Bon Jovi, rising from the ashes, spreading hope.
"I saw the smoke wafting over my house and wondered if it was Armageddon. I watched the Towers burn from the beach and called the blood bank to see what I could do. I'm less likely to travel away from home now but I'm not going to stop living my life because of fear. I've travelled the world for the last 20 years, so I knew what you guys dealt with here with the IRA, America got a wake-up call when it hit our backyard." But the country pulled thru and Bon Jovi were mascots. They opened the new American football season by playing to half a million people in Times Sq last July.
Since 9-11 Jon has become increasingly politicised. Unlike most US artists, however, he refused to cancel tour plans during the war, even though he was opposed to America acting without the UN. He also campaigned for Al Gore against Bush but tries not to use his stage as a platform. "I regret not doing it at times but its not the time or the place. I campaigned for Al, but that was me as a citizen. On stage I'm there to entertain, not to preach."
He is a working-class boy made good, a walking advert for the American Dream. Formerly John Bongiovi, he played in local bands as a teenager and success followed thru determination and naivety. "It's all I ever wanted. I believed it could happen when I was a kid, which is dumb enough in itself. But my idea of success was getting on a tour bus and playing regularly."
Jon is the second of Jersey's most famous sons - Bruce Springsteen hails from the same working-class community. "We weren't a big city, but it was a melting pot between NY and Philly where the spotlight wasn't glaring and you could learn in front of people. I was born in the Kennedy era where you just believed, you had hope. You're parents still believed in dreams and buying a house and car."
Lack of options were also an influence. "My 3 best friends joined the navy. The only way out was to join the services but I wanted to play in rock bands." he explains, the irony of his fashionable army jacket totally lost on him. "Other than that I would have had to apply for a job in a factory. I had no college ahead of me and certainly no white-collar experience."
With far more opportunities open to his children than were to him, is there a danger that they will not possess the determination of their father? "I want my children to earn everything." he says. "They're going to realise that it's more rewarding."
He proudly relates a story about his 7-year-old son, who trained for a month to make the local American football team. "I bought him the team jacket and we got his name embroidered on it at the mall. He wears that thing like its made of gold. You could buy him 20 pairs of trainers [sneakers] but that $25 jacket is the most important thing because he earned it."
Consider that picture of domestic slush, then Jon's last visit to Britain. Money thrown at lap dancers, a charming photo of him offering his middle finger to a camera - it's all a reminder that fatherhood is one thing, rock & roll another.
Middle age has brought deeper thinking and responsibilities but hardly the quiet life. "It's just so exciting to record a song and then record it and play it live. If the Rolling Stones quit, then we can gauge where the end of the road should be. But I don't want to do the nostalgia tour as the fat Elvis. I just won't do that."
Bon Jovis single ALL ABOUT LOVING YOU is out now on Island © Chris Goodman @ Sunday Express 2003.