The Birth of Bon Jovi

(Gibson) On this day in 1983, Jon Bon Jovi formed the band Bon Jovi. Gibson takes a look back: Born John Francis Bongiovi, Jr. in Perth Amboy, New Jersey on March 2, 1962, Jon Bon Jovi's parents were both retired Marines. After the military, his father, John Francis, settled into work as a barber, while his mother, Carol Sharkey, became a florist. John, Sr. was of Sicilian and Slovak descent, while Carol came from German and Russian stock (it's been claimed by Jon himself that Frank Sinatra's blood runs through his). Jon attended St. Joseph High School in Metuchen, New Jersey during his freshman and sophomore years, but transferred to Sayreville War Memorial High School in Parlin, New Jersey.

Jon spent a great deal of his youth pursuing music. He played in local bands with friends and his cousin, Tony Bongiovi, who owned a fairly renowned recording studio in New York called The Power Station. During that time, he played in a number of bands, and while his grades suffered because of a general lack of interest school, his passion for music knew no bounds. By 16, he was steadily gigging in various local clubs and musical hot spots, and it was in one of these early bands, an outfit called Atlantic City Expressway, where he met keyboardist and future Bon Jovi bandmate, David Bryan.

Like his future superstar bandmate, Richard Stephen "Richie" Sambora was also born in Perth Amboy, New Jersey, though a few years earlier on July 11, 1959. Richie's father, Adam, was a factory foreman, while his mother, Joan, worked as a secretary. Raised Catholic, Richie grew up in Woodbridge, New Jersey, where he started playing guitar at the age of 12, shortly after the untimely passing of one of his musical heroes, Jimi Hendrix. Raised on '60s rock and blues, he was a big fan of the guitar gods of the day, including Hendrix, Eric Clapton, Jeff Beck, Jimmy Page, Johnny Winter and, later, Stevie Ray Vaughan and Joe Perry. Richie was also a big fan of Spanish classical guitar, elements of which would inspire some of his future work.

Jon and Richie's musical destinies were on a collision course. more on this story

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