BON JOVI: Moscow Aggro (1989)

By STEVE MASCORD

IT’S Saturday afternoon at Giants Stadium, New Jersey and the ordered violence of an NFL game is in full flight. Huddled in his usual seat is a slim fellow with dark sunglasses, a foot-long hotdog in one hand, a Budweiser in the other.

Oddly familiar curled hair emerges from his baseball cap and meanders gently down to his shoulders, betraying a laboured look of normality.

“There I was with a baseball cap on, with a hotdog, drinking beer, watching the Giants, in my glory,”says Jon Bon Jovi from his nearby home. “No-oñe even knew I was there. With 83,000 seats and I sold the place out in hours by myself. We didn’t even have anyone else on e bill, we sold it out in, like, hours.” 

An afternoon of anonymity is all Jon Bon Jovi is allowed these days. While the band he fronts’ record sales have dipped slightly since the 1986 phenomenon Slippery When Wet, Jon  has never been more of a public figure.

Over a quarter of a million people have experienced his brand of noisy rock first hand on the current tour, and it doesn’t finish until February. In between, Jon has has enjoyed the success of proteges Skid Row and worked on albums by Alice Cooper and Cher. There’s been an “historic” Russian festival which was apparentIy more notable for its backstage shenanigans  than for its onstage feats (more about that later) and, yes, even Jon’s top secret marrage to long time sweetheart Dorothea Hurley.

Jon, one time studio hand at the Power Station in New York, is now certified American cultural figurehead.But while he’s rarely been one to kiss and tell, isn’t being married on the quiet a bit like, well, a rock star?

“We knew if we had a regular wedding, we would have had to invite a thousand people,” he says. “And I didn’t do it for those thousand people, or for my record company..or for my manager. I did it for me, I did it for her. We didn’t tell anyone. We didn’t tell our families, we didn’t tell ôur friends, we didn’t tell the band.

“I don’t need to hide it. But like, there’s nothing left in my life that’s private any more. I can’t sit in my own house with the bedroom windows without the shades on ’em because somebody’s taking a picture of my bedroom window. You know, there’s always somebody hanging out in front of my house. People are wonderful,mind you, they’re great people but I can’t do anything in private.”

Jon is so agreeable it’s almost as if you think you’ve called the wrong house. He isn’t patronising or too friendly. He simply answers questions neatly, warmly. I get the impression, though; he would not be too helpful if you started pounding him with “what is your real name”, etc.

At the beginning of August, Bon Jovi headlined a groundbreaking oncert at Russia’s Lenin Stadium. On the bill were Motley Crue, Cinderella, Ozzy Osbourne, Scorpions, Skid Row and Gorky Park. As with most most positive things, there was an ulterior motive  – BJs manager Doc McGhee had been convicted of smuggling marijuana into the US over a year before. As American law is, he was able to avoid going to jail by setting up the Make A Difference anti-drug Foundation. The Russian two-day event was a part of this program. In the end, about 140,000 Russians attended the show and Glasnost was more or less assisted.
What happened behind the scenes, however, displayed far less goodwill. The British press cast doubts over what was happening to the money. Osbourne threatened to pull out if he wasn’t moved further up the bill. And as a finale on the the last night, Motley Crue, also managed by McGhee, fired him after Bon Jovi allegedly used fireworks and they weren’t allowed to. Crue drummer Tommy Lee reputedly even punch Jon out!

“Not punching me!” Bon Jovi positively shouts. “I would’ve busted his f* * kin’ head, he wouldn’t be alive to
talk about it.”

The Crue, promoting a new album, have since described the BJs as “It was meant to be equal billing over there, no-one was meant to be headlined and Bon Jovi ended up trying to undermine things with pyrotechnics and lasers. We were very disheartened that there was not like this brotherly thing. We felt like we were getting second-rate treatment from our manager, so we sacked him”. Jon d&esn’t take this very well.

“They’re lust having a ball bad’-mouthing’ us because it doesn’t make for good press to badmouth Doc McGhee,
nobody knows who he is.

“I’ll tell you what the truth of the story is if you want the honest-to-God truth. You can print this as the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. I’ll give you the story of what really happened that night because … although they’re talking to f**kin’ everyone while they’re promoting a new album, I haven’t been doing a lot of press.

“Boñ Jovi, because we’re represented by Doc McGhee, was the first and only name on the bill for this Russian show.  As

it grew, as it took shape, as we promoted it since last summer, last June our time, we were going to be spokesperson for the show. Motley didn;t do anything for it so when we were deemed headliners on what was supposed to be equal billing, they were upset.

“Everyone got the same sized billing on the posters, everyone got everything the same, but we were going to close the show. No-one seemed to have a hard-on about that until Ozzy got to the show and was fourth on the bill but he wanted to go third. Motley wouldn’t let him. Sc Ozzy says ‘”f**k you, l’m goin’ home”. And I happened to be walking by’when this whole incident happened. This is when Skid Row was on stage on the first afternooon, Ozzy says he’s not playin’. I said ‘well I’ve put this thing together for a year, with my name on it, doing all the f**king press work while all the f**kers were everywhere. I’ll tell you what Ozzy, you close the show because I think you’re the best known guy here anyway. I’ll go fourth, I don’t give a fuck,  I don’t care if it’s the Beatles out there, I’m going out to kick your ass”. So that was what he did, right? So the showy contines, Nikki (Sixx) gives  in ànd lets Ozzy go third on stage. We do the show, everything goes fine on the first night, no-one’s real pleasured with the way the show turned out.

“So, the great thing about being on a festival where all bands are equal is that anything is fair game. So (the next night), I went to the Russian military. I got a Russian military coat and hat, I snuck out onto the field in the stadium and walked right down the centre isle. That guy who bought us on the night, we told him what to say. He says: “please welcome, from the United States Of America, the undisputed heavyweight champions of the world, Bon Jovi”. Like in the Rocky movie, the lights went down in the stadium and every spotlight went down on the grass.

And I snuck out and walked right through the crowd and they never knew it was me until I took off the military coat and I was near the stage. All they see is this soldier, 90,000 people and this soldier walking towards the stage. They figure it out, I take off the coat, when they see it’s me when I put on the tour coat, the place starts to go crazy, my band’s on stage playing ‘Lay Your Hands On Me”.

“The fireworks display, I’ll tell you exactly where it came from and it’ll be played over when they show the TV show. The
Russian army, right after the’show was done, was putting on a fireworks show. So, the Russian soldier hit one button on one twirly thing that went off, not even on a downbeat, in the middle of a song. We never knew it happened and the Motleys were out in the crowd and they saw it happen and they went nuts. They said ‘not only is the crowd going crazy here, not only are they closing the show, but they’ve got pyro. Do lied to us’. We knew nothing about it. Doc knew nothing about it. Next thing I know, someone pulls on his shoulder  and from what I hear, he turns around and he gets sucker-punched.

Bon Jovi said the Crue caught separate planes home. “They knew better than to get on the plane,” he said. “Between Ozzy wanting to kick their ass and Doc wanting to kick their ass, they caught another flight. So there you go, man, You’re the first and only guy I’ve told the whole f**kin’ story to and that’s what happened.”

Shortly before leaving for Australia, Jon put in a phone call to Motley Crue’s current management asking the boys to stop taking pot shots at him, While they are here, the BJs will be getting away from it all by hitting our country roads on some hired Harleys and generally doing a spot of sight-seeing.

Filed for: ON THE STREET

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