Jon Bon Jovi Had to Choose Between Music and the Military as His 3 Best Friends Joined the Navy

Most people have heard at least one song by Jon Bon Jovi before, whether it’s “Livin’ On A Prayer”, “Wanted Dead Or Alive”, “You Give Love A Bad Name”, or one of the several other hits that he has made over the years. Bon Jovi is inarguably one of the biggest rock stars in the world, but many people don’t know much about his background. Learn more about Bon Jovi’s career, his upbringing, and the decision he made as a young man that changed his life forever. 

Jon Bon Jovi smiling in front of a wooden door
Jon Bon Jovi | Max Mumby/Getty Images

Jon Bon Jovi’s career

Jon Bon Jovi, born John Francis Bongiovi Jr., started playing music as a teenager. According to Biography, he formed a band with David Bryan called Atlantic City Expressway when he was just 16. He continued playing in a few other bands with some mild success until he formed the band Bon Jovi in 1983 with David Bryan, Alec John Such, Richie Sambora, and Tico Torres. 

Bon Jovi released its first two albums in 1984 and 1985, and both were met with positive reception. It wasn’t until their third album, Slippery When Wet, came out in 1986 that the band began to rise to worldwide fame. According to Observer, the album rose and sat at number one on the charts for over two months, and it was the best-selling album of 1987. 

Bon Jovi has released 14 studio albums in total, and they are considered one of the bestselling American rock bands of all time with over 100 million albums sold. Jon Bon Jovi also has had a successful solo career, releasing two solo albums, starting his own label called Jambco Records, and producing several acclaimed albums. 

Bon Jovi’s upbringing

Biography states that Bon Jovi was born and raised in New Jersey. His father, John Francis Bongiovi Sr., was a hairdresser, and his mother, Carol Sharkey, was a Playboy Bunny who later became a florist.

In a recent interview on Justin Long’s podcast (available on Apple), Life is Short with Justin Long, Bon Jovi states:

“We had a very nice, very easy middle-class New Jersey upbringing. It certainly wasn’t the wrong side of the tracks. But all of our families had to work two jobs. My mother and father worked six days a week to make that we had a roof and food and all the — they could buy me a guitar.”

Bon Jovi goes on to talk about how he was looking for adventure, and school didn’t feel like it was the best option for him at the time. He says, “If school was setting me up for the cubicle and that’s what life was, and it wasn’t an adventure, then what’s the point? You know?”

Bon Jovi clearly has humble roots, and he has managed to keep his cool despite experiencing such widespread success. He remains highly active in philanthropy and politics, and he appears to be quite content with the way things turned out for him. 

Choosing music over the military

In the same interview with Justin Long, Bon Jovi discusses the path his friends took after high school in their pursuit of adventure. He states:

“I remember in the late ’70s you get a phone call from the recruiting office of the service. And they say, ‘We’ve got an idea. Come and see the world. Join the Navy.’ And my three best friends said yes. And there was four of us. And my three best friends said yes. And I was like, ‘Not unless the uniforms come in different colors and I can grow my hair.'”

Instead, Bon Jovi pursued music, and it didn’t take him long to rise to stardom. Had Bon Jovi joined the military, he wouldn’t have been the only rockstar to serve. According to We Are The Mighty, George Jones, Jimi Hendrix, George Strait, Elvis Presley, and several other musicians had a military background. 

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