Jon Bon Jovi demanded truth be told in documentary

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Jon Bon Jovi had a very clear vision of the kind of documentary he wanted made to mark the 40th anniversary of him and his band. It had to be an honest accounting of the ups and downs.

“I wanted to document what had happened in my past with a vision on what is the future. One thing we agreed upon on day one was this was not going to be a VH1 puff piece,” Bon Jovi says. “This had to tell the truth and have all the warts to go with it in order to tell a real truth.

“So, I’m proud of the film.”

The documentary that has given him such pride is “Thank You, Goodnight: The Bon Jovi Story,” a four-part series that debuts April 26 on the streaming service Hulu. It charts the epic past and uncertain future of one of the most recognizable bands in the world and its front man.

It joins the band in February 2022 and follows their real time journey with its fits and starts as they attempt to chart out their future. Included in the series are 40 years of personal videos, unreleased early demos, original lyrics and never before seen photos that chronicle the journey from Jersey Shore Clubs to the biggest stages on the planet.

Those interviewed include Bon Jovi, Bruce Springsteen, Tico Torres, Richie Sambora, David Bryan, Phil X, John Shanks, Obie O’Brien, Everett Bradley, Doc McGee, Dorothea Bongiovi, Matt Bongiovi, Paul Korsilius and Dean Grillo.

One of the reasons Bon Jovi was willing to make such a truthful documentary is that he has only had a few regrets over the years.

“I’m proud of who and what I am at this juncture in my life. I was lucky enough to have a dream and be able to pursue it, and I still am pursuing it. So, I think it’s been a life well spent thus far, but it’s a work in progress,” says the New Jersey native.

He was 20 when he got his first record deal. Bon Jovi jokes that since he didn’t break up with as many people as Taylor Swift, most of his early works had to do with regular high school topics.

The inspirations came fast and furious as the band released 15 studio albums while he made two solo albums. “Living on a Prayer,” “Wanted Dead or Alive,” “Keep the Faith” and “These Days” made the band a massive hit. In 2009, Bon Jovi was inducted in the Songwriters Hall of Fame.

Bon Jovi also made the leap to films and TV appearing in “Pay It Forward,” “The Leading Man,” “Sex and the City” and “The West Wing.”

The documentary gave Bon Jovi a chance to re-examine his career. He recalls how in the early years he never expected the band to survive let alone achieve this type of success.

Looking back also gave him a chance to see how different the world is today from when he started.

“Everything has changed.  You have to remember that we were born in an era that didn’t have computers or telephones and mobile phones or social media. We’ve seen everything from our first album to cassette tapes and shortly thereafter, eight-track,” Bon Jovi says. “Every advent of the CD and on and on and on to today’s streaming. I’m able to roll with all the punches.

“But when record company presidents come in, I say, ‘I’ll see you on the way out’ because I’ve seen them come in and I’ve seen them go.”

The upside of all the technological changes has been a broadening of the way artists can get their music to the public. The music may not get the proper promotion or distribution but at least there are more avenues.

The only thing that hasn’t changed is Bon Jovi has been with Mercury Records from the start.

As for the title of the documentary, that was an easy decision. He ends all his concerts by telling the audience thank you and wishing them a good night. It is also a nod to his health battles that included vocal cord surgery.

“You know, travel into the darkness, but knowing that there was light shining tonight. The ambiguity of the title is also what does the future hold for me and for my band, and that’s a health‑related question,” Bon Jovi says. “Although I’m making great strides, we faced something that I didn’t expect.

“I’m doing very well and sang for my first time in public just the other night, so I’m feeling good. When we shot this there was no definitive answer.  If I can’t go out and do two and a half hours a night, four nights a week, ‘Thank you, goodnight’.”

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