US Weekly - June 19, 2000 - Issue 279
BON JOVI'S HOME IS WHERE HIS HEART IS
Jon Bon Jovi opens the door to his mammoth
New Jersey home. "Hi,come in," he says, walking with a cane -- a side
effect of recent knee surgery to fix a torn meniscus. "Want some drugs? I'm
on painkillers for this knee." His wife of 11 years and companion of 20,
Dorothea Hurley, smiles from across the entrance. "Don't bother," she
says, "they're not very good." It may seem typically rock & roll
for a singer to offer up narcotics, but, in fact, these days the 38-year-old Bon
Jovi, who has a new album and a booming acting career, is more the stay-at-home
dad than the out-all-night partyer.
With a house like his, why go out? Bon Jovi lives in Red Bank, New Jersey, with his wife, 38, and two children, Stephanie Rose, 7, and Jesse James, 5, in a 30-room eighteenth-century-French-style stone manor that was four years in the making. The kitchen has a 12-foot-high vaulted brick ceiling; an antique sandstone mantel hangs prominently in a den; old mirrors and dark wooden chairs line the windowed hallways. Pop-star touches include a neon-tinged Warhol-type portrait of Jon and Dorothea and a full-size 35-millimeter movie screen that ascends from the wood floor at the far end of the living room. "We get the studios to send us whatever's out," he says. "Plus there's video and cable hooked up to a separate projector so we can watch DVD or sports on TV."
The family moved in a year and a half ago from across the Navesink River, which borders their backyard. Born John Francis Bongiovi in Perth Amboy, he grew up in Sayreville with his younger brothers, Matt, now a concert producer for Los Angeles' House of Blues, and Anthony, a video producer in L.A. Their parents, John, a retired hairdresser, and Carol, a former Playboy bunny and Miss Erie, Pennsylvania, still live in Sayreville, just 21 miles away.
The riverside grounds boast a very fancy security gate, a guesthouse, an English pub in a former caretaker's cottage and Bon Jovi's proudest possession: a professional-grade recording studio with 22-foot-high ceilings and a view of the water. It was here that his band, Bon Jovi, recorded it's first new album in five years, Crush, which arrives in stores June 13. "It is so comfortable to record at home," says Bon Jovi, his footsteps resounding as he walks through the studio's main room. "You get up in the morning, take the kids to school, work out, then record. It's the simple things, too, like sunlight."
Amazingly, it is the first album the Jersey boys -- guitarist Richie Sambora, 40, drummer Tico Torres, 46, and keyboardist David Bryan, 39 -- have done entirely in their home state. Bon Jovi has released seven albums over the past 17 years without fighting, breaking up or enduring any other rock-star ugliness, a feat they attribute to their keep-it-in-the-family attitude. "We worked through our problems over the years," says
Bon Jovi. "There were plenty of stupidities. There was alcoholism, there were drugs, there was plenty of rock & roll stuff. We just didn't tell the world about it."
Don't count on getting the whole story when the band's Behind The Music episode is broadcast on VH1 June 11. "We've suffered by not airing our dirty laundry," says Bon Jovi. "We were never considered dangerous. If we told the truth, it would make a great rock & roll story. But why put someone's nose in our problems?"
Bon Jovi takes the same tight-lipped approach to his remarkably solid marriage to his high school sweetheart. "I can't say I've been a saint and we haven't had trials and tribulations," he says, "but my wife is the coolest. She is the girl that everyone wants to hang out with, and
that's the greatest compliment I can pay her. Through everything, she's truly been my best friend." As for their children, Jon and Dorothea are careful to keep them out of the spotlight. "I've chosen to be a public figure; they haven't. We just want our kids to lead very normal lives," he says. Here's normal life, Bon Jovi-style: The rocker walks outside, hops in a golf cart and whizzes across the lawn to his pub, the Shoe Inn, est. 1999. Inside the cozy, low-ceilinged building, a fireplace, a pool table, an Addams Family pinball machine and a jukebox full of 45's await. Bon Jovi pours some white wine and takes a seat at the antique bar. This is where he and the band hung out every night after recording.
On one side of the room sits a curious orange chair, straight from a sports arena, with a patch that reads ORANGE SEATS SUCK. It was given to Bon Jovi by Matthew McConaughey, with whom he costarred, along with Harvey Keitel and Bill Paxton, in the recent World War II action film U-571. "I told him this story on the set," explains Bon Jovi. "When we did a European tour in 1995, Van Halen was opening for us, and they're not very big over there. Alex Van Halen didn't feel too good about it, so I told him, 'You know what color the seats are in Knoxville, Tennessee? Orange. How do I know? Because when we played there, no one was in 'em.' So McConaughey sent this over with a good-luck note about the album."
The role as McConaughey's best friend in U-571 is Bon Jovi's biggest to date. He'd previously appeared in indie films including Moonlight and Valentino, as a romantic house painter, and Homegrown, as a drug dealer alongside pot growers Billy Bob Thornton and Kelly Lynch. Next up is a role as a boozing two-timer in Mimi Leder's Pay It Forward, starring Kevin Spacey and Helen Hunt, due in theaters in October, in which he plays the father of a boy (The Sixth Sense's Haley Joel Osment) who takes up a teacher's challenge to try to change the world.
Now, Bon Jovi is getting ready to say goodbye to his family for the summer and hit the road for a European tour before playing the States in the fall. He may be a homebody these days, but there's still a part of him that's pure rock & roll. "I love performing and making records after all this time," he says. "Seeing all of our fans out there for us after being away for five years is going to be just amazing. I can't wait."