Jon Bon Jovi She is one of those people “touched by the magic wand”, as one of her best-known fans in Ibero-America says, the writer, screenwriter and journalist Florence Etcheves. Florencia is also one of my dearest friends, and I think that the love that she has had since she was a teenager for the musician from New Jersey is my own token of the lasting relationship that Bonjo established with those 100 million fans“they can’t be wrong”, according to the album for the twentieth anniversary of his band, recorded in 2004.
For the singer, songwriter and guitarist born 60 years ago as John Francis Bongiovi Jr, his fans were always a priority: perhaps there is no other rockstar who has been as determined as he has been to maintain his bond with the public throughout the last four decades. The dark glasses that he wears almost all the time by prescription, to alleviate his ocular hypersensitivity to sunlight and tobacco, were never a barrier: the sexiest man in rock – crowned by People magazine in 2000 – looks at his fans and listens to them as much as he likes to be looked at and listened to.
And above all, it makes them feel part of it, like in that exclusive collection with unreleased material and covers that was 100 million fans…, for which he asked for messages that were later printed on the box with the five discs. or in “Do what you can”the song he did in collaboration with the public on his latest album (2020), something unique in a star with hits – anthems, Florence corrects me, and just listen “Livin’ on a Prayer” (1986) or see Olivia Coleman dancing it like in a trance the dark daughter (2021), to prove him right– imperishable, who Billboard ranked a few years ago at number 50 of the most powerful and influential in the industry.
It is not the only title that has been won Captain Kidd –the nickname that his classmates gave him David Bryan, Tico Torres, Phil X and Hugh McDonald in honor of an old Scottish pirate–.
With Italian, Slovak, Russian and German descent, Bonjo maintains the sex appeal that was in his DNA with the aesthetic sensibility that he learned from his parents. The mother, Carol, is a former Playboy Bunny turned florist. who took care of the relationship with his son’s fans all over the world for years. The fatherwhich has the same name, John Francis, he was a famous hairdresser -founded the franchise jon anthony–. The first job of the singer with the best hair in the history of music was precisely there, in his father’s barbershop.
And it is that to everything that in his life could seem fortuitous, Jon Bon Jovi transformed it into a destiny in which the constant has been the fire of glory to which he sang in one of his most popular songs, “Blaze of Glory” (1990), which he wrote at the request of his friend Emilio Estevez For the movie Young Gunsand why won a Golden Globe for best original song. From being born in a slum in New Jersey – where he lived most of the time with his family until the start of the pandemic, when they moved to a mansion in Palm Beach –, or being the son of the hairdresser, to being the rockstar with neatly tousled hairstyles, disobedient in appearance but always down to earth. As Florence says: “Bonjo is the teenager who made it, the stainless rockstar.”
As such, his time in the cinema was not only to compose soundtracks. He acted in more than a dozen films and also had special appearances in series such as Sex and the City, 30Rock, The West Wing and AllyMcBealin which he played a continuous role as the boyfriend of the lawyer he played Callista Flockhart.
There is a milestone in his career and in his history: the day he got his haircut, back in the early ’90s, still ranks No. 24 on VH1’s list of the 100 Worst Moments in Heavy Metal. The fans -mostly women-, however, did not cry for the long lost hair. For them, far from losing strength, her idol was growing along with them, and that he married in 1989 with Dorothea Hurley, his teenage sweetheart that accompanied him since before fame and tours, was part of the same.
Unlike other music stars with a female fan base, Bonjo never hid his love for the woman who accompanies him to this day and with whom he had his four children –Jacob, Jesse, Romeo and Stephanie Rose–, and his followers understood it as part of his natural evolution.l. They love Dorothea just as they accepted the haircut with which she entered this new stage of her life and her career, that of keeping the faith, as she sings in another of her great “hymns” , “Keep the Faith” (1992).
“His aesthetic journey between soft metal and glam rock –in that hybrid called glam metal that made us scream in the 90s– was always consistent. He was a handsome boy and we died for that: He was gorgeous and rebellious, but at the same time romantic says Etcheves, who rose to vice president of the local fan club. But he was also a handsome young man, and today he is a handsome man. He never messed around. Now, for example, stopped dyeing and has gray hair (the media compares it to Richard Gere). He is a star who knows that his fans are like ‘the girls’ of Sandro. Not looking for new people. He continues to speak to us, his girls, through time.”
That is the great key to her unbreakable bond with her followers: Since he founded his band in 1983, Bonjo has always sung for his generation and the one immediately after. “Although he is ten years older than me, I always felt close to him because his songs were about the things that happened to me: graduation, teenage sex… And when he grew up he continued to be interested in the same issues that I was. He always talked about what he felt”.
And the same thing happens today, says who followed him for more than three decades on stages around the world “dressed as a Bon Jovi bride”, with bandanas, cowboy boots or leggings. “Today he is a 60-year-old man who helps his children with the ‘goats’ on Instagram for the wine they produce. And in his networks he confirms what we fans perceived. Obviously everywhere I saw him he always says that he is in his favorite city, with his best audience. But the truth is Bonjo loves all his audience, and on Instagram he generates conversation even if he doesn’t need itbecause he has too many followers: he asks for photos of old recitals, he retweets and answers the messages because he enjoys it. He hasn’t replied to me yet, but I still write to him and wait, I’m his Kathy Bates”, he laughs in reference to the mythical character of the actress in Misery (1990), from Stephen King –his other great idol–, the writer of bestsellers like Wanderers, cornelia, The Champion’s Daughter and The Virgin in your eyes.
The former host of TN risks a theory: “There are two types of celebrities. There are those who enjoy fame and those who are weighed down by the burden of not being able to walk or go to the movies without being harassed. There are people like Mirtha Legrand to which he likes and gives himself to his public. I think Bonjo too. He always liked him, and the networks give him the opportunity to reap what he sowed, to say: ‘wow! All those people that I used to see by the thousands from the stage are now here, just a click away’. She always knew how to do everything that we girls like. And she also does it in her posts: laughs at himself; tells how if before an entire stage ran, now it no longer reaches half; or he says, ‘How much hair he had here, look how skinny he was!’. Again, these are the things that are also happening to us.”
An example of how his interests and music matured with him is his commitment to the Democratic Partyto which, although he is not affiliated, he has accompanied with shows on campaign tours, as in the case of the candidates John Kerry (2004) and Hillary Clinton (2009). He also made a song during the pandemic (“Do what you can”the one whose verses were completed by the public in a collaborative creation) to honor those who kept the world running, like healthcare and utility workers.
In addition to deliver free meals from JBJ Soul Kitchenthe community restaurant in New Jersey where people pay only if they can and what they can –with money or volunteering–, and that it is one of the flagships of the foundation he created in 2006 to “support the community in breaking the cycle of poverty and homelessness”.
“He messes with the issues that matter,” says Etcheves, who last saw him play in Lima in October 2019, on a Latin American tour that did not reach Argentina, and was left wanting to see him in the Madison Square Garden beside Bryan Adams –“My whole life on stage”, he says–, in a recital that was canceled due to the pandemic, like his last tour of Florida, last October, when the singer tested positive for covid.
She is also the same little girl who became fascinated with “You don’t know me” (1984) at the house of her childhood best friend, in Brazil, and the teenager who put on her boots and bandana to search the kiosks for rock magazines like Cloth that they talk about their idol, or find out what’s new on the radio in times without the Internet, and the one that today is surprised by going to recitals where the audience is “ladies of 50″. And that is the most beautiful thing, says Florencia: “We all grew up with him”.
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