In 1983, John Francis Bongiovi Jr. assembled a New Jersey band. Since then, the rock band christened Bon Jovi in part to emulate two-word band names like Van Halen and to make it easier to pronounce has sold more than 125 million albums.
The band headlines EnergySolutions Arena Tuesday night, with Ryan Star opening. It's a tour to support the band's sixth compilation album, "The Greatest Hits," released last October.
Founding members Richie Sambora, on guitar, and Tico Torres, on drums, spoke to The Tribune during a media conference call to talk about riding on steel horses, being devils on the run, and how they'll make it to Utah. They swear.
Sambora • What we have learned to do … is give good stadium. I don't know how to say it any other way, you know, and I'm trying to be humble about it but, you know, this band we know how to give good stadium.
Torres • Remember, we're from the East Coast, Jersey, New York, and our motto has always been go up there and kick some a.
On another rumored Jon Bon Jovi solo project:
Sambora • It gives us a break. He's the leader of this band and you got to respect that. … I had extensive conversations with him over the last couple of weeks and who knows what the hell he's going to do. But it's OK with all of us. You know, we're all going to stick together. I mean we're like a gang.
On band longevity:
Torres • Maybe when we're 85 we'll do the small, little tour because you don't have to run around a lot.
Sambora • There's going to be more songs to be written and, you know, guess what? We want to be the Rolling Stones. I know I do.
On being nominated, but snubbed, for the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in their first year of eligibility:
Sambora • Personally, I think it's a boys club over there. I don't know what they're doing. And, you know, they're looking for ratings or what they're doing, I have no idea. And it has nothing to do with our legitimacy because our legitimacy comes with the people and the fans. And, you know, you sell 125 million records and have the two biggest tours in the last three years, I'll take that.
On Justin Bieber:
Sambora • I had the pleasure of meeting Justin and I introduced my daughter to him and hopefully she won't be going out with him any time soon.
Sambora • Listen, rock and roll is a contact sport. You get out there in front of 60,000 like we've been doing for the last year and you're basically I don't know how to say this but almost, you know you're having sex with those people. They're enjoying it. They're getting it. You know what? You're getting it. You're exchanging energy between the band and the audience. And it's something that's very, very special that not a lot of people get to do. And we don't take that for granted for one second. … And, you know, we have an optimistic attitude. You know, we're a bunch of kids that grew up in Jersey and New York and from meager backgrounds and look where we are now. Also, I think the fact that the unity of this organization is just amazing. So I think that people just love to feel the whole energy.
Keepin' the Faith: Bon Jovi with Ryan Star
When • Tuesday, March 22, at 7:30 p.m.
Where • EnergySolutions Arena, 301 W. South Temple, Salt Lake City
Tickets • $16.50 to $126.50 at SmithsTix
While rocking singer-songwriter Ryan Star is ecstatic about opening four shows for Bon Jovi, this isn't his first time. In fact, he opened for the band when he was 15.
Star, now 33, is embarking on a solo career, but between the ages of 14 and 25 he was in the band Stage. It was a group of high-school friends who released several EPs and, in 2003, an album on major-label Maverick Records.
Stage won a battle-of-the-bands competition, earning the opportunity to open for Bon Jovi near their Long Island hometown.
"Jon gave me our first chance," Star said. Besides performing, Star said his favorite memory was seeing "the hot girls that Richie Sambora was with."
A year after leaving Stage, Star competed in the CBS reality show "Rock Star: Supernova," where a superband of Mötley Crüe drummer Tommy Lee, former Metallica bassist Jason Newsted and former Guns 'N Roses guitarist Gilby Clarke were looking for a lead singer.
Although Star didn't win, he gained a lot of notice, and since then has toured with Rob Thomas, The Script and Collective Soul. In August, he released his second studio album, "11:59," which debuted at No. 31 on the Billboard albums chart.
Star finally got the chance to meet Jon Bon Jovi again two weeks ago, and Bon Jovi told Star that he earned the opening slot because Star had a lot of high-placed and respected fans. "This is what you dream of," Star said.