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Jon Bon Jovi on new docuseries 'Thank You, Goodnight' capturing band's triumphs and trials


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Amna Nawaz: Few musical acts have enjoyed the success and the long run of the legendary band Bon Jovi.

And a revealing new documentary series premiering tonight on Hulu tracks the highs and the lows of the Grammy Award-winning band's four decades together.

Recently, Geoff Bennett spoke with front man Jon Bon Jovi about "Thank You, Goodnight: The Bon Jovi Story."

It's for our arts and culture series, Canvas.

Geoff Bennett: Jon Bon Jovi, welcome to the "NewsHour."

Jon Bon Jovi, Musician: Thank you, Geoff. Happy to be here.

Geoff Bennett: Yes, it's great to have you here.

This docuseries is a real, honest look at the band's triumphs, its setbacks. What has this experience been like, reliving your past and then considering what it all means for your future?

Jon Bon Jovi: It was emotional when we saw rough cut, because a lot of life was lived in these last 40 years.

Geoff Bennett: Why share so much and why share it now?

Jon Bon Jovi: Well, 40 is a milestone. Even if it's only the first 40, 40 years is a long time to have been making music as we have.

So I wanted to mark this milestone. We were archiving everything, that I didn't realize or a hoarder I have become.


Jon Bon Jovi: So it made it easy for the storytelling.

And then about this vocal surgery was not a part of the plan. But this is a couple years in the making, this film. So that just happened. And I'm not afraid to show emotion. It's just that we typically hadn't had the platform for it.

Geoff Bennett: To have led one of the world's most successful bands, to have a 40-year run doing that, that doesn't happen by accident. What has it required of you?

Jon Bon Jovi: I love what I do, but it's hard work. It's like anything else. It's your craft, but it's also your passion, and then by being true to who and what you are, which was important early on and to remain true to that, you evolve as a man and as a writer.

And people come along for that ride.

Geoff Bennett: And you found success early, in your early 20s. How were you able to grapple with megawatt fame so early in life?

Jon Bon Jovi: I can't tell you that I could write the book on it, but, in truth, probably our upbringing, where we were from, the time in which we were born, family.

The band could close the door and say, "Do you believe what just happened"?


Jon Bon Jovi: So a lot of that was living your life.

Geoff Bennett: You talk in the docuseries about one of your biggest musical influences, Bruce Springsteen.

I didn't realize until watching this that you actually played with his band when you were in high school?

Jon Bon Jovi: He jumped up on stage with my band when I was still in high school.

Geoff Bennett: Well, that's even better. He played with your band when you were in high school.

How has your relationship evolved since then?

Jon Bon Jovi: Well, obviously, it's something that I treasure. He's so many millions of people's hero.

But growing up 25 miles away from that Jersey Shore scene, where he made it famous, and then Southside Johnny followed up in those footsteps, those were guys that not only I could look up to who were 12 and 13 years older, but they made the impossible seem very possible, because they were, in essence, right outside your window.

And now our relationships, of course, are bonded forever, because we have become very close.

Geoff Bennett: Well, as I mentioned, this docuseries focuses on the band's setbacks.

And you mentioned your vocal cord surgery. It was April of 2022.

Jon Bon Jovi: Right.

Geoff Bennett: You were performing in Nashville. You came off stage and realized you might not ever be able to perform live again?

Jon Bon Jovi: Well, it's not that I couldn't. It was more of a decision that maybe I wouldn't.

I tried everything I could. There was something happening, but a picture couldn't show it to you. When a singer has something like a nodule, it's in essence a pimple on a vocal cord. You can see it visually. I wasn't having that.

What I was realizing that one of my vocal cords was atrophying. And after a lot of holistic and praying and anything I could do, including going out on the road to try to beat it into shape, I'd come to the conclusion that I needed to find the right surgeon. And I did.

Geoff Bennett: And there is no Bon Jovi without you and your voice.

What did that feel like to potentially have the thing that you love to do taken away from you?

Jon Bon Jovi: The truth is, I hadn't had to think about that because I have always been in the process of getting to the recovery.

The new album is proof that the surgery has worked. For me now, the bar is getting back to that two-and-a-half-hours a night, four nights a week. So that's the process that I'm in now.

Geoff Bennett: The docuseries also features your former guitarist Richie Sambora, who you described as your perfect foil. What do you mean by that?

Jon Bon Jovi: Well, everybody wants a right-hand man, if they're lucky enough they have a friend like that.

And he had come to see me many years ago. He says: "I need to be your guitar player." When we clicked and hit it off, he became that perfect right-hand man. And, in 2013, he left the band.

Geoff Bennett: How big of an adjustment was it when he officially left?

Jon Bon Jovi: Well, there was a big black hole on that side of the stage, for sure, but there was nothing that was going to hinder me from continuing to write records and go out there and sell out shows.

Sorry to say it, but look at the marquee, you know?


Geoff Bennett: Has he watched this docuseries?

Jon Bon Jovi: We watched it together. And it was wonderfully emotional to be together, just the two of us watching it.

Geoff Bennett: What do you believe sets Bon Jovi apart from other bands?

Jon Bon Jovi: I don't know. I mean, if I did, I'd bottle it and sell it to somebody else.


Jon Bon Jovi: But I think it was the hard work, the joy of doing it. We persevered by writing songs that people could relate to.

And I have been on this 40-year journey, that people may have gotten off the ride along the way,but it's been honest and open. And so you can feel yourself in those shoes in different parts of your life the way I have written about them in mine.

Geoff Bennett: Yes, well, one of those songs, "Livin' on a Prayer," classic, one of the best rock melodies ever.

But when you were writing it, you thought, I'm not so sure about this. Maybe it's a song for a movie soundtrack. How did that song ultimately come to life?

Jon Bon Jovi: Well, it evolved.

When we'd written it on that day, it was a very simple chord structure. The melody, the lyric was finished. We knew all of that. But it came to life when the band got in the room and we developed the bass line, and Tico came in playing the drums.

And that's when it popped. That's when the key change happened at the end.


Jon Bon Jovi: That's how we wrote it.


Jon Bon Jovi: With an acoustic guitar and a stand-up piano.


Jon Bon Jovi: There was no drum machines in those days. There was nothing like that. So, I was like, yes, it's good. It's good.

Geoff Bennett: Did you know then that it could be as enduring as it is?

Jon Bon Jovi: No. In truth, Geoff, it wasn't the first single on the album.

"You Give Love a Bad Name" was the first single, because that sort of sounded like what was on the radio, what a hit song sounded like. When we wrote that, when we were like, I think we got one here. "Prayer" was so different. And it was the second single, and, of course, the billions of steams and all that stuff later.

Geoff Bennett: Right, right.

Jon Bon Jovi: Who knew?


Geoff Bennett: Well, you have got a new album coming out in June, recorded in Nashville.

Jon Bon Jovi: Yes.

Geoff Bennett: What does Nashville lend to the Bon Jovi sound?

Jon Bon Jovi: I remember, when I was a kid, my mom said, find your influences' influences.

And when we were talking a little bit off camera, somebody had said to me during the course of this promo tour, what's the first music you remember hearing? And the thing that came to mind initially was Beatles and Gene Autry.

Geoff Bennett: Really?

Jon Bon Jovi: So there was always a little bit of a country thing that I was aware of as a little boy. But it wasn't what drew me to music.

What draws me to the city is, I jokingly say, these are my people. The -- it's a songwriters community. Every guy that's pumping gas is a great songwriter. And they're still making a living doing it.

Geoff Bennett: You think you might tour again?

Jon Bon Jovi: I hope so.

Geoff Bennett: Yes, yes. Well, so do we.

Jon Bon Jovi: Thank you.

Geoff Bennett: Jon Bon Jovi, the new docuseries is "Thank You, Goodnight: The Bon Jovi Story," streaming now on Hulu and Disney+.

Jon Bon Jovi: Thanks.

Geoff Bennett: Really great to talk with you.

Jon Bon Jovi: And you, buddy. Thank you.

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