Jon Bon Jovi Weighs Touring Future After Vocal Cord Surgery: ‘I Won’t Present Anything Less Than 102%’

“I’ve had a great life and I’ll still make records and still write songs. I intend to be the best version of me in 2024,” the rock and roll icon tells TheWrap

TEL AVIV, ISRAEL – JULY 25: Jon Bon Jovi of Bon Jovi performs at Hayarkon Park on July 25, 2019 in Tel Aviv, Israel – "This House Is Not For Sale" tour. (Photo by Shlomi Pinto/Getty Images)

In celebration of Bon Jovi’s 40th anniversary, Hulu is taking fans behind the scenes in a new four-part docuseries that charts the iconic rock and roll band’s rise to fame.

In addition to reliving the group’s triumphs and setbacks, greatest hits, biggest disappointments and most public moments of friction, “Thank You, Goodnight: The Bon Jovi Story” follows the band on tour in February 2022 as they attempt to chart out their future. The docuseries includes 40 years’ worth of personal videos, unreleased early demos, original lyrics and never before seen photos that chronicle their journey from Jersey Shore Clubs to the biggest stages on the planet.

“The look back is a celebration more than it is a discovery,” Jon Bon Jovi told TheWrap in an interview at the Television Critics Association Winter press tour in February. “I do recollect the journey and not all of it has been pretty. But it’s the truth and I’m glad [director Gotham Chopra] was able to capture that.”

One of the major topics covered in the docuseries is the vocal cord surgery the singer underwent in 2022. Bon Jovi said he’s aiming to get back into the full swing of performing in the fall and that he’s hoping to eventually do another tour.

“I won’t present anything less than 102%. I’m working very hard on it on a daily basis and I’m not even ashamed to tell everybody this truth,” he emphasized. “I’m not Superman, it’s a hard slog to expect that of you. But I won’t ever be the fat Elvis, you’re just not going to see that unless I go out there and I’m great. I’ve had a great life and I’ll still make records and still write songs. I intend to be the best version of me in 2024.”

Check out the rest of the conversation with Jon Bon Jovi and Gotham Chopra, below.

TheWrap: During your panel, you talked about how the project started out as a look back that went through the ups and downs of the band, but later evolved to include following the group in real time. When did you realize that it was going to be bigger than you initially anticipated?

Gotham Chopra: I think the process of making these things is they call it unscripted for a reason and the story starts to tell you what it wants to be. You have a vision and intent at the beginning. But I mean, there’s just so much there, so there’s probably a whole shadow version that we could do but you have to make choices.

That real-time thread was really dramatic. It was telling itself as we went forward. So we were working on two different planes and had an amazing creative team and this incredible editor piecing it together the whole way. Originally, we were talking about there are four decades, so that became an organizing principle. But over time, you could start to see the ebbs and flows in those 40 years that made sense to build around.

What influence did growing up in New Jersey have on your career? How does it feel knowing you helped pave the way for artists in the state?

Jon Bon Jovi: Frank Sinatra paved the way before any of us did, right? Frankie Valli did it between Sinatra and Bruce Springsteen. As far as rock and roll, it was Bruce obviously, and to a lesser degree, but nonetheless, Southside Johnny and then I’m after that.

But here’s how I think of New Jersey: That was our breeding ground, it was the place where we are from and I wouldn’t have changed that for anything. It defines who I am as a man. We grew up in the shadow of the great New York City. But it was the shadow, it was an hour and a half away. You could take your dreams when they were fully baked to Manhattan for presentation, but they were carved out of the stones in New Jersey and that was a benefit to us.

In my era, it was also beneficial that 18 was the drinking age. This is integral because at 16, I could slip into a bar and learn how to play and perform without the responsibility of a day job or a college career yet. So you could start to piece this puzzle together because that drinking age didn’t change until after I was of age. So all of those things were instrumental for who and what we were to become.

What was the most challenging song for you to write?

Bon Jovi: Every record has its challenges because you want to put your best foot forward on every record. And when you do finally finish it, you never leave that record and say, ‘Oh, I could have done better.’ In and of that moment, at least on the day that you turn it in, you say, ‘That’s the best work I could do at this time.’ Every one of them has its challenges, but the process should be a struggle. If it was easy, everyone would do it. You’ve got to get it right and that’s part of the artist’s struggle.

Did going on tour post-COVID change the way you view performing?

Bon Jovi: It didn’t. The only thing that benefitted us was that it was a quieter backstage. But when you’re out on the stage, it was the show. So the rest of it was the norm. COVID was a crazy time for the entire planet. It’s one experience in our lifetimes that no matter who you are experienced together. I was able to write about some of that on the album in 2020. Fortunately, for the planet, it’s all behind us. We can move on from it and you write the next record. But COVID, other than that, didn’t shape where I am today.

You’ve mostly worked on projects related to sports, but you also love music and have previously worked with Wiz Khalifa. How do you find musicians that you want to work with?

Chopra: Jon in a way found me and then we got deeper into this, but I have been very focused on sports. I would say now I’ve got the bug, but this is a pretty high bar to me. But I don’t know that it’s athletes or musicians, it’s stories. It’s storytelling. Underneath the rock star there’s a human being and that amazing backstory. It was really this current story that’s very relatable. That’s the thing I think hopefully elevates this and separates it from a lot of what’s out there, and that’s what I found in athletes.

The greatest compliment usually is, ‘Oh, I’m not a fan of the Patriots, but I watched that thing and I really liked it. Maybe Bon Jovi is not my favorite rock star of all time, but I’ve got to watch that thing.’ And I was inspired, I was really there for the ride. 

Music is a great, vibrant, exciting, dramatic world and you have a band with a 40-year history. I think one of the things he says in one of his interviews is marriages, divorces, births, deaths: That’s the scope of this thing. It was just so exciting and that’s what made it exciting. I’m sure there’ll be other projects, but its going to be hard to hit this bar. 

What was the biggest challenge for you shaping this story?

Chopra: It’s a band with a lot of different characters and voices and not all of them line up because it’s a lot of time, so everyone’s recollection of what happened is different and it’s so emotional. You want to tell that truth, but the truth can be different to people. So you want to honor all of it but also find it and that’s an exploration, but it’s fun.

It’s also not just voices, but it’s different life experiences. Dave [Bryan] and Tico [Torres] have such different personalities and they were there pretty much at the beginning. So it’s really feeling your way out. It’s understanding the backstories even how they came into the band. It was beautiful in a way. Richie [Sambora] was there at the beginning and had an incredible role to play in the formation of the band, but he hasn’t been there for a long time. So it was just weaving that all together and finding the threads that meet up.

I love non-scripted because there’s something really pure about it and you’re discovering it. What I remember from those first days is we shot the tour in April of 2021, I guess. It was right at the beginning. I barely knew Jon and I was on the road and it was COVID and it was just pretty tense and Jon was going through it at that point. And now I look back and I feel like the relationship we’ve built, the relationship with the band is so radically different. It’s a radically different feeling, but it’s a discovery and that’s actually the best part.

What do you hope new artists can take away and learn from your career and this docuseries?

Bon Jovi: Stay true to who and what you are. You can grow with your public and that’s all good. You don’t have to try to hold on to what was then because if you’re blessed enough to have been around for 40 years, hopefully, you’ve changed, you’ve matured. Anyone that would expect us to rewrite ‘You Give Love a Bad Name,’ they should be thinking about that before just saying that because you should change in 40 years.

So I would tell any new artists today to be true to who and what they are. Because if you have success, I pray that you’re blessed enough to have the opportunity to sing that song in 40 years. But don’t sing something that isn’t true to who and what you are, because your audience will allow you to grow. But just be sure that you tell your truth.

“Thank You, Goodnight: The Bon Jovi Story” is now streaming on Hulu.


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