The Many Face(s) of Jon Bon Jovi
I don't know if this will come as a surprise to many of you or not, but Jon Bon Jovi turns 50 today. The miraculous thing about Bon Jovi, however, is that the man is ageless. Yeah, he has a few more creases, but his face is essentially unchanged.
A Long Time Ago
Sometime In Between a Long Time Ago and Today
Meanwhile, look at his contemporaries: Jani Lane (Warrant) is dead. In between embarrassing late-career turns on a VH1 reality show and a stint on Celebrity Apprentice, Bret Michaels has also had a few run ins with death. Joe Elliot (Def Leppard) looks like this:
Axl Rose looks like this.
Sebastian Bach (Skid Row) looks like this:
Here's Vince Neil.
And here's a reminder of what Jon Bon Jovi looks like today.
But it's not just about the way his contemporaries aged compared to Jon Bon Jovi, it's also about what Jon Bon Jovi has managed to achieve. He may be the poor man's John Mellencamp, who was the poor man's Springsteen, but Bon Jovi is probably richer than both of them. Jon Bon Jovi is the American Dream: A poor kid from Jersey who worked as a janitor in a recording studio and worked his way up to self-made multi-millionaire. Through it all, he's remained married to the same woman (whether he's remained faithful is another question, and not really my business), he's never courted or been involved in a major controversy, he's dabbled in acting, he owns a sports team, he rebuilt a lot of dilapidated buildings in Philly, and the man still makes successful albums using a very simple formula of turning well-worn cliches into middle-of-the-road songs.
And that's why I kind of love Jon Bon Jovi. I grew up on his music, though I don't listen to it anymore because, let's be honest, it's not very good. But that's beside the point. I appreciate that the man exists; I hope that my kids end up idolizing some clean-cut rocker who sings about blue-collar life and embraces the world with as much optimism as Jon Bon Jovi. He's a tad full of himself, but ultimately, he's a good guy. There are not enough good guys in the world, and certainly not in a music industry that profits off of reputation and image.
Jon Bon Jovi didn't resort to drugs and alcohol. He didn't quit. You won't find him on a reality show essentially built around making fun of has beens. Jon Bon Jovi held his head up, he weathered grunge, he saved his money and he invested well, and he continues to go out and tour and make albums and put himself out there earnestly. In an industry where it feels like the superstars just kind of fall head-over-ass into success, the best thing I think anyone can say about Jon Bon Jovi is this: Like his music or not, he earned every goddamn penny he made.
Plus, I will never stop loving this video. RIP Sam Kinison.