When the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame’s Class of 2018 inductees head into Cleveland’s Public Hall on Saturday, at least one of its awardees won’t play it by rote: Jon Bon Jovi. The rocker and activist’s band, Bon Jovi – along with two other artists with area ties, Nina Simone and Sister Rosetta Tharpe – join The Cars, Dire Straits (sans leader Mark Knopfler) and The Moody Blues as part of 2018’s new Rock Hall membership.
“When you consider that about 125 bands or acts in the Hall, and when you consider that every kid who has ever strummed a guitar in their garage strives to get to that place – I am proud to be associated with that,” Bon Jovi says. “I am proud to be under the same roof with the greatest musicians of all time – such as Elvis, The Beatles and the Stones.”
Bon Jovi claims that he is going to the festivities with big plans for the band. But before I even get a chance to bring up the still on-going controversy of former guitarist Richie Sambora (who lasted from 1983 to 2013 as Bon Jovi’s one-time guitarist and co-composer before mysteriously leaving the band), Bon Jovi erases any awkwardness by bringing it up himself. “I’ve invited Richie and Alec [John Such, the band’s bassist until 1994 when he was dismissed] for what should be a joyful weekend. It’s family. We even took off a few days before and after the ceremony just to hang out.”
What will make Bon Jovi’s post-award performance that night so bracing is the risk that the band may take. “We know that we could do ‘You Give Love a Bad Name,’ ‘Livin’ on a Prayer’ or ‘Wanted Dead or Alive,’ but they’re hardly representative of our career – that’s just one album,” he says of 1986’s 12 times platinum release Slippery When Wet. “But no band has ever come into the award ceremony on the heels of a Number One album and a Top Ten single,” he says pointing out 2017’s This House is Not for Sale’s recent reentry atop the Billboard album charts, and its single, “When We Were Us,” in the singles charts. “I am considering doing one of the new songs and that is something that’s just not done. It’s not as if I am pushing that – BUT – if I wanted to do that, I might.”
Bon Jovi plays the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame’s Class of 2018 induction Ceremony or wait until it airs on HBO starting on Saturday May 5. He and band will play the Wells Fargo Center on May 3.