Category: Music

Jon Bon Jovi is perhaps most responsible for ushering in the short-lived but ridiculously popular hair metal genre in the mid – late ’80s. While that may not be the greatest compliment in this day and age, it’s nevertheless a fantastic personal achievement.

Bon Jovi represented the genre with his long, teased-out hair, his pretty-boy looks, his unstoppable voice and his shameless mane of golden chest hair. He and his namesake band left Sayreville, N.J. and took the entire world by storm with their second album, 1986’s Slippery When Wet.

With “Wanted Dead or Alive,” “You Give Love A Bad Name,” and the best anthem this side of Journey, “Livin’ on a Prayer” on the record, it went diamond-certified with 12 million copies sold and to this day holds the record for number of weeks spent at #1 on the Billboard charts by a rock band.

That’s right: combined with later albums, this makes Bon Jovi one of the most successful American bands ever.

But that’s not even the most important part of Bon Jovi’s legacy.

With the winning smile and hairy man-chest of its lead singer, Bon Jovi was an MTV favorite, and each of the band’s music videos became major hits on television. The video for “You Give Love a Bad Name” from Wet is so unapologetically ’80s that wet clumps of hair gel actually drip from the screen.

With Bon Jovi, the hair metal genre reached its apex both musically and visually, and would continue to do so until taking an unexpected leave of absence with the arrival of those buzz-killing Sasquatch rockers, the grunge bands.

But then Jon Bon Jovi came back ten years later with the album Crush, and the unfortunately successful and addictive song “It’s My Life.” He was back in the spotlight, but some very important things had changed.

His mane was gone, replaced by a bouffant. His awesome spandex pants and cut-up denim vest were ditched for a tuxedo. But worse, when scandalous pictures of his body began to appear in magazines, his chest was no longer full of manly hair. It had been rigorously waxed and tanned.

These days Bon Jovi makes his living charging his most devoted fans $300-plus for decent seats at his concerts, releasing country duets with Jennifer Nettles of Sugarland or staring in the television show Sex and the City and movies like Cry Wolf and National Lampoon’s Pucked.

In conclusion, the man who was Jon Bon Jovi — ladykiller, rock god and hairy man’s man — is no more, lost to all of us that wish it was still 1988.

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Let me take you back nearly 30 years to the era of the much underappreciated and misunderstood glam-metal genre.

Its heyday lay between the glitzy, extravagant and unapologetic years of 1981 and 1989, characterized by titans like Great White, Cinderella, Winger, Firehouse and L.A. Guns.

This was a time of rampant androgyny, of tight spandex pants and their essential bulges.

This was the golden age of Mötley Crüe, of Poison, of Warrant, who combined are responsible for truckloads of Jack Daniels passed through their collective veins, crates of cocaine passed through their naval cavities and tens of thousands of groupies just plain passed around.

This was a time of men, a time of giants.

And in terms of popularity, no band was more gigantic than Def Leppard, legendary libertines of the stage and multi-platinum recording artists.

Already a household name and relative icon of the age thanks to 1983’s Pyromania and almost constant MTV coverage, Def Leppard took nearly four years on hiatus before producing their next album.

In 1984 the band had to overcome a debilitating setback that would have ultimately destroyed a lesser group — the loss of drummer Rick Allen’s left arm in a freak car accident on New Year’s Eve.

But the band remained intact and stuck by Allen, rigging up an experimental electronic-acoustic kit with an array of foot pedals that replaced the accents that Allen would have usually used his left arm for. In 1987, after one of the longest album production process in rock music history, Hysteria was released, its name coming from the experience Allen suffered during his ordeal.

Hysteria is one of only a handful of albums that has charted seven singles on the U.S. Top 100 — surprising but completely warranted even with a casual listen to the album. “Women,” an ode to the fans that Def Leppard most loved to satisfy, sets the album in motion, establishing the more pop-oriented sound that became successful due in a large part to the mechanical, beat-driven ethereality of Allen’s electronic drum kit. “Animal,” the title track “Hysteria” and the love-hating power-ballad “Love Bites” are my favorites, with the catchy hooks and radio-friendly sounds that endure to this day.

Upon release, Hysteria immediately reached the top of U.K. and most European music charts, though not becoming the colossal hit it would eventually become in the U.S. until the release of “Pour Some Sugar on Me.” “Sugar,” along with Bon Jovi’s “Livin’ on a Prayer” and Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believin’” is one of the era’s greatest rock anthems.

The popularity of “Sugar” boosted Hysteria to the peak of the U.S. Billboard 200 chart almost a year after its release, and the album today is certified 12-times platinum by the RIAA.

This makes Def Leppard the most successful band of its genre.

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