Jon Bon Jovi in 1986: “As long as there’s a plug, we’ll plug it in.”



By Steve Newton

When New York rockers Bon Jovi flew into Vancouver to record their third album, it didn’t take long for them to become attached to the place.

“The first night we got there we were into the Embassy and the Metro,” says singer Jon Bon Jovi. “And in both of those bars they were playin’ our songs ‘Runaway’ and ‘In and Out of Love’. It was a nice welcome.”

The popular hard rock band, who open for Judas Priest at the Pacific Coliseum this Monday (July 14), wound up in town because they wanted to record with locally based producer Bruce Fairbairn. Fairbairn, who has put his Midas touch on albums by Loverboy and Honeymoon Suite, had the group working inside Little Mountain Studio for two months. By the time they were finished, Jon Bon Jovi was raving about the facility, which he feels is right up there with the best of them.

“We did our first album at the Power Station in New York, and the second one at the Warehouse in Philadelphia, and it was definitely as good or even better than both of them. And our engineer, Bob Rock–he’s the greatest. I would definitely do the next album there.”

During the eight weeks they were recording here, Bon Jovi and his band could usually be seen partying it up at the city’s hard rock establishments. The Bon Jovi clan also spent a fair amount of time at Vancouver’ strip joints, or “go-go bars”, as Jon calls them. They came up with the title of their new album after a trip to Gastown’s No. 5 Orange, but there’s a bit of controversy surounding it.

“The original title was going to be Wanted Dead or Alive,” says Jon. “We shot a cover for it, and then later that same day we dropped into the No. 5. We were watching one of the girls shower, and we thought ‘Man, I bet that’s slippery.’ And that was the new title, Slippery When Wet. We threw the cover in the garbage and started from scratch.”

A new cover was then shot for the new title. It shows a woman in a shower wearing a t-shirt that says “Slippery When Wet”. But now it’s not even certain whether that second cover will be used either.

“The record company says it’s too sexual,” shrugs Jon. “They’re all upset about it. They’re giving me a hard time about the cover, but I’m not gonna change the title.”

While Bon Jovi doesn’t mind making sex objects of women, he’s not happy about being one himself. In a recent issue of the British metal magazine Kerrang!, Bon Jovi beat out the likes of loose-hipped David Lee Roth to take the Male Sex Object of the Year award.

“I hate it,” he says. “I mean tell me I’m the best songwriter and I’ll say thank you. But the sex symbol thing is not for me.”

One thing that sets Bon Jovi’s band apart from the group they’ll be playing with this Monday, Judas Priest, is that they attract a strong female contingent to their shows. Another difference is that their music is more pop-oriented, less heavy-handed than that of the Priest. But Jon isn’t too concerned about the groups’ conflicting styles.

“Anywhere we can play is okay with me,” he says. “As long as there’s a plug, we’ll plug it in.”

And though Bon Jovi are often labelled heavy metal, the band hasn’t had the same problems with crowd violence that acts like Ozzy Osbourne and Judas Priest have experienced lately. (Two Ozzy fans leapt to their deaths during a recent show, and there was a fatal stabbing at Judas Priest’s Tacoma Dome concert last month.)

“Our crowds are definitely not like that,” claims Jon. “One thing that we try to put across to the kids is just have a good time. Go in there and have fun, but be careful. We want you to come back again.”

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