KEEPING THE FAITH Jun 12 2003
It's only rock 'n' roll but Jon Bon Jovi likes it - even if his hell-raising days are over
HE may be a rock God among the legion of fans who have stuck by Bon Jovi through their 20-year career and 100 million album sales, but Jon Bon Jovi insists his band are about as clean cut and clean living as you're likely to see.
The 41-year old singer, who has a career sideline as a Hollywood heart- throb and one time co-star in Ally McBeal, insists the cliched appeal of sex, drugs and rock 'n' roll don't do anything for his bandmates, guitarist Richie Sambora, keyboard player David Bryan or drummer Tico Torres.
Like them, Jon insists his hellraising days were short-lived and fizzled out soon after the start of the band's career.
Sitting in an Amsterdam hotel room just a few hours after Bon Jovi have played a sold-out stadium date, Jon admits he is partial to an occasional glass of fine wine but that, he says, is as far as it goes.
The blond and perma-tanned New Jersey rocker drawls: "The drug era in this band is gone. Tico hasn't even had a drink in 10 years.
"We have different play toys now. All the things we tried to emulate from our all-time rock idols may have happened in the beginning. All those fun things young bands tell me they've done, I'm like been there and done that.
"But it's not as though we sit around in our smoking jackets in the lounge. Though I sure would like to be in that Voodoo Lounge which The Rolling Stones have.
"These days after a gig there's no shortage of good wine for me and a pack of smokes, though that's where the party stops."
To sum up his unhappiness at being holed up in a foreign city, Jon admits he would rather be at home in New Jersey with his wife of 13 years, Dorothea, and their three kids, Stephanie, 10, Jesse, seven, and baby Jacob.
To ease feelings of homesickness, he plans to decant the family to Scotland for the band's concert at Ibrox stadium on June 22.
"When you know a tour is coming, they have to drag me up the stairs and out the door, and my fingernails are embedded in the driveway," he reveals.
"But after four or five days when you get used to room service and living out of a suitcase, you adjust.
"It's tough, though. I missed my daughter's birthday again this year. I missed her grammar school graduation ceremony today and I'm sitting in a f***ing hotel room.
"The kids are used to it because they were born into it, remember. It's like my wife. I've been in this business the whole time we've been married.
"The family generally stay home, but they'll come for a week between Dublin and London and are coming with me to Scotland.
"Sadly, we'll not get a chance to see the sights. People think we do a show, take a week off and go sightseeing, but it's not like that. I get up in the morning, travel, do a show at night and do the same thing tomorrow.
"The reality, though, is that there are long stretches of time when I am home and that's the nature of this job."
HE says he believes his daughter Stephanie has inherited his musical talent, though he has no intention of trying to get her to follow him onto the stage.
"I don't try to corral the kids into making music, but my daughter especially has a real and natural talent for it," he explains.
"She started playing piano but quit. It will be up to her to decide whether it is her desire. I'm not going to push her into it. If any of them decide to go that way, great. I just want them to discover who they are and what they have a talent for - that would be alright."
He believes his band are at their peak now, being able to draw from a back catalogue that includes impressive million selling albums such as 1986's Slippery When Wet, 1992's Keep The Faith and last year's Bounce. Having almost split in 1991, he now hopes to give The Rolling Stones a run for their money by keeping the group together for as long as possible.
Jon tells me: "There's a big playlist to play from without having to rehearse the songs as well as a variety of covers. The tour's been going great because we keep it fresh.
"I keep being asked if there is supposed to be a finish line based on sales and years. I never understood the fact that people think there is a certain plateau that means people who picked up a guitar would want to give up.
"I don't want the gold watch. I have always wanted to do this forever regardless of how many records I sold.
"We're way past the stage of imploding. That period came in 1991. We got over it.
"In 1983, we'd got a record deal, did four consecutive records and supported anyone we could to get our music heard.
"It was a different time, none of us had a house or a family. So a hotel room seemed pretty sexy.
"There wasn't anything else in our lives other than the cliche of rock 'n' roll and the desire to do this.
"By the end of those 240 show tours, I was a zombie and I burned out. It made me reassess the situation.
"I took time out and thought about whether I wanted to do it any more, because I was becoming a machine.
"I talked with the guys and helped them to keep the faith and we started the next chapter. But it had nothing to do with egos. It centred around burn out. You've heard the stories of Axl with the fortune teller, they say Slash f****d up, Stevie Tyler was on heroin. But that wasn't the case back in 1991 when we almost imploded.
"I didn't steal money from Ritchie or screw his wife. We just didn't want to go out there onstage any more, but the fact that nobody did anything to each other helped us to get back out there.
"Friendship kept us together when we realised how important it was. But during those two years I didn't want to see them and they didn't want to see me.
"I honestly had nothing to say to them and vice versa.
"Every night for eight years we'd been together and it was the same dinner conversation. That sucked.
"We had to get away from each other to realise how much we actually liked each other in the first place."
He believes most of today's bands are only too willing to split if their chart careers are on the wane or when egos get out of control.
Jon insists: "A lot of great music could have been made by bands if they'd figured out the bulls*** part of the music business and got on with making their music, saying something and having fun.
"And forget about all the ego and attitude of having your picture appear in a magazine.
"The excess, the things that are at your fingertips are cute for a minute, but you have to get down to playing and recording a body of work. Look at The Stones - they are the benchmark.
"They are going to be together forever and ever. I mean look at Keith Richards - one bite on the neck from him and it's all over."