New York Post July 18, 2006
JERSEY'S SAINT JON
ASK Jon Bon Jovi what he is, and you might hear New Jersey's golden boy say rock star, or maybe actor, family man or football team owner. Any one of those would be true, but the answer he gives today is "juggler."
"I juggle to make time for everything," Bon Jovi says.
"Everything" includes wife Dorothea, his four kids, his self-titled band that's been rocking the charts for more than 20 years, the Philadelphia Soul (the Arena Football League team he owns) and acting on the big and little screens.
"Sometimes I think I could use a stunt-Jovi to help me out," he quips.
As ambitious as he seems, the biggest priorities for this 44-year-old aren't acquiring more fame or wealth, but using those rock-star superpowers to give back to the community.
Bon Jovi puts his money - and time - where his mouth is. In just the last couple of years, this handyman, who admits he can't drive a straight nail, has built 26 Habitat for Humanity homes in Philly and New Orleans.
"I have a responsibility. I have to do it."
"It gives me peace. I'd never have believed how giving and volunteerism lights your life up, or the pure joy of getting involved in a cause."
Causes aside, tonight Bon Jovi - man and band - put music at the top of their to-do list, starting a sold-out three-night engagement at Giants Stadium.
Post: Bon Jovi is the only band that's playing Giants Stadium this summer. Does that quiet the Bon Jovi bashers?
Bon Jovi: I keep doing what I do. One of the things I give this band credit for is we never jumped on anyone's bandwagon. We don't rap, we didn't pretend to be from Seattle, we didn't do boy-band pop - like us or not, you can't say we were anything but honest. We play rock, and we play it better than most.
Post: Talk to the haters.
Bon Jovi: After all these years, our harshest critics have to throw up their hands, accept us and say, "They are what they are."
Post: Musically, what is that?
Bon Jovi: We're in that rarified air. There ain't anybody else playing three nights at the stadium. It ain't the Stones or U2, it ain't Bruce or Madonna. Bon Jovi - three nights at the Stadium - not bad.
Post: What's the order of importance in your life between music, acting and football?
Bon Jovi: They're all on equal turf with me right now.
Post: Come on, everyone has priorities; you wouldn't be able to plan if you didn't.
Bon Jovi: There is no end plan here. I have no idea what the future holds for me. That's what makes it exciting. I just don't know. I do feel a growth period coming on in my life. I got that seven-year itch, and I feel like something major is going to happen soon. Changes are coming, but I don't know what or why.
Post: Is the band breaking up? Are you through with music?
Bon Jovi: No and no. But the change is in the music - it's time for change. "Keep the Faith" was why we stayed relevant in the '90s. In 2000, we changed again when we did "It's My Life." That's when a new generation discovered us. We didn't plan any of that, it just happened. I can smell change coming again.
Post: Give me a hint.
Bon Jovi: I'm thinking of a Nashville sessions record. I'd like to knock out a quick record with a few country writers and artists and me and Richie [Sambora].
Post: A country record?
Bon Jovi: Here's my game plan: I'd like to get two or three artists to do duets with. I'd like to give a couple of Nashville songwriters a chance to shine, and Richie and I would write a few songs to prove we could hold our own with these guys.
Post: Are you as hands-on with the football team as you are with the music?
Bon Jovi: Oh yeah, but when I bought the team I thought I was going to be like Steinbrenner. I was going be the guy sitting in the box smoking footlong cigars. I didn't understand the work until I had to do it.
Post: Like what?
Bon Jovi: Look, 10 of the 19 teams in our league are owned by NFL organizations, and whatever they need is there for them. When I bought the team, we didn't even own helmets or shoulder pads. We had nothing - I actually went to Modell's to buy that kind of stuff.
Post: Every show on this tour has had a local amateur rock band warm up for you. Have they asked for advice?
Bon Jovi: The smart ones have. What I tell them is to call their local paper and get a story in about how they opened for Bon Jovi. Then take that write-up to the radio station and try to get a DJ to listen to their CD and put it on the radio. I tell them to make something out of the opportunity.
Post: Make your own luck?
Bon Jovi: You gotta be active. If you think it's just going to come to you, you're going to wait forever.
Post: That's one of the themes in your music, isn't it?
Bon Jovi: I think there's optimism in my music. Anything is possible if you're willing to kick the door down.
Post: What's the most important lyric you've written?
Bon Jovi: [Long pause] In "It's My Life," I sing, "like Frankie said, I did it my way." When Richie heard that, he said to me, "Nobody gives a s - - - about you looking up to Sinatra. There's no way we're putting that line in the song."
Post: But it's there.
Bon Jovi: I said, "Screw you - I have to sing the song every night, and I believe in the lyric." I was right, because that lyric has touched so many people. People too young to even know who Frankie was. Frankie could be their buddy, their brother, their teacher. What that lyric did was empower a generation to think, "I'm taking control of my life."