On January 21, 1984, "Bon Jovi" released their debut eponymous album, which was the opening chord to a successful and glorious career.
But the birth of this album was not simple at all and the rich career of "Bon Jovi" was almost never happened.
In 1980, a young boy named John Francis Bongiovi, a native of New Jersey, began working at the "Power Station" recording studio in Manhattan New York. The studio was partly owned by his cousin Tony Bongiovi, and John took advantage of the time in the studio to record demos for the songs he wrote. He sent the demos to all the local record companies and radio stations, but without success.
John did not give up, he dared and in 1982 came to the "WAPP 103.5 FM - The Apple" radio station from New Jersey with the demos. "WAPP" was a new station and did not even have a receptionist, so he managed to get in and go directly to DJ Chip Hobart. He persuades him to listen to the demos. DJ Chip was impressed, he loved the song "Runaway" and even included it on the station's compilation album - "Homegrown", of local young bands. The song was played on the same station until it came to the attention of another radio station in New Jersey - "WDHA", which also included the song on its own compilation album of young bands, that do not yet have a recording contract.
One day the recordings rolled onto Derek Shulman who worked for "Mercury Records". Shulman was a very talented musician himself, one of the leaders of the Prog-Rock band "Gentle Giant". He immediately recognized the potential of young John and signed him on a recording contract.
At this point, young john began a race to form a band that will accompany him on the album, as well as choosing a name for the band. The guys from the record company suggested the name "Bon Jovi" and John liked the idea and even adopted the stage name, Jon Bon Jovi.
As for the band, the first band member Jon Bon Jovi called, was keyboardist David Rashbaum who later changed his name to David Bryan. David called his bassist friend Alec John Such and drummer Tico Torres. To complete the lineup, Jon Bon Jovi recruited his childhood friend, guitarist Dave Sabo, who will soon leave and be replaced by guitarist Richie Sambora.
It is interesting to note that Sabo will later form "Skid Row" together with Sebastian Bach. As childhood friends, there was an unwritten agreement between Sabo and Bon Jovi, that if one of them succeeds in the music industry, he will help the other. Jon Bon Jovi kept his promise to Sabo and made sure that Bon Jovi's manager would arrange a recording contract for "Skid Row". Jon Bon Jovi even did more than that. He made sure that his childhood friend and his band "Skid Row" will warm up "Bon Jovi", during the tour that accompanied their third album "Slippery When Wet".
But the hardships did not end there, as after choosing the name and assembling the band, the members were pressured to finish writing the material for the album and start the recordings, all while they only have one finished at their hands.
The pressure, the lack of experience of the band, and the fact that its members have not yet formed their own musical direction, greatly influenced the result, meaning the lack of uniformity that can be found in this album.
"Runaway" was recorded by Jon Bon Jovi back in 1981 with studio musicians called "The All Star Review" - including keyboardist Roy Bittan, known from the band "E Street Band" of Bruce Springsteen. The recorded version with the session players found its way to the album with no changes at all. It is interesting that even though, the video clip released for MTV, shows all the band members although none of them really played in the original recording.
The third track on the album, "She Don't Know Me", was written by keyboardist and producer Mark Avsec. It holds the dubious title of Bon Jovi's only song not being written by any of the band's members. It was written by Mark for another band that was signed with the same record company, but the record company thought Bon Jovi's album needed one more hit, so they asked Mark to offer the song to "Bon Jovi". This is the second single released from the album and it had also won relative success.
This album is far from being perfect, but thanks to songs like "Runaway", "Roulette" and "She Don't Know Me" it is a good opening shot for an amazing career that will come later.
"Bon Jovi" eventually built their audience with their second album "7800° Fahrenheit", but their big break came only in 1986, with "Slippery When Wet", where the band had already established control of 80's Hard Rock and defined the Glam Metal genre of the period.