Released today in 1985: Hardest Part Is The Night

Vertigo VER22

Vertigo VER22

John Francis Bongiovi Junior, later known as Jon Bon Jovi, was born in New Jersey. He had a keen interest in music from an early age and having joined local bands with friends, began playing clubs by the age of 16. By the 1980s he was fronting live performances for bands and putting together a repertoire he could release as a solo artist. Through family member Tony Bongiovi, co-owner of New York’s music complex Power Station, he was able to secure studio time to record demos of his songs with a variety of session musicians. These eventually saw release in the late 1990s as The Power Station Years: The Unreleased Recordings, under his birth name John Bongiovi, his first professional recording having also been released under that name in 1980. That year, Christmas in the Stars: The Star Wars Christmas Album (a kind of concept album set in a droid factory making gifts for Santa to deliver, featuring Christmas-themed songs) was being recorded at Power Station and Tony Bongiovi recommended his cousin for the song R2-D2 We Wish You A Merry Christmas. He got the job and on the album’s release on 10 November 1980 the public got to hear John Bongiovi for the first time.

In return for these opportunities, he accepted low-paid employment at Power Station, duties which according to an unauthorized biography by Laura Jackson, “amounted to those of a general errand boy. He swept floors, made coffee, went to the bank, placed bets for people and fetched hot snacks for hungry clientele. It was menial work that paid around $50 a week, but Jon was in his element. He did not mind running out for beer for David Bowie. He liked getting to work in time to collide with Mick Jagger arriving at the studio. And as a young guy pushing a broom, he manfully overlooked it when the odd less even-tempered diva would be unnecessarily bitchy to him.” In 2000, he told the Mail On Sunday about one of the diva encounters, with a Silk Electric-era Diana Ross. Ignoring a ‘Do not enter’ sign on the door to deliver a package to her, he “made the mistake of calling her Diana, to which she sharply replied ‘Can’t you read, you moron? It’s Miss Ross to you. Now get the fuck out of my studio.’ ‘It was’, says an older Bon Jovi, ‘a bit of a surprise, but as soon as I left the studio, it was a case of ‘Well, fuck you too, man.’ Don’t get me wrong, she’s still a great singer. But I gotta tell you, Miss Ross ain’t my boss.’”

A couple of years later, he took a demo of one of his own songs, Runaway, to a number of record companies looking for a deal but none was forthcoming. He subsequently joined an existing rock band, Scandal, as guitarist, but when a local NY radio station picked up Runaway and it became to an airplay success, Mercury records took an interest and he left Scandal to bring together some musicians to help promote a full commercial release of his own song. Keyboardist David Rashbaum, who had played with him in one of his early outfits called Atlantic City Expressway, was the first on board. Rashbaum had left their band to study medicine, but changed his mind and transferred to the New York music school Juilliard; he gave up his studies on receiving the call from Bongiovi and recommended that drummer Tico Torres and bass player Alec John Such be added to the line-up. Last to be recruited was lead guitarist Richie Sambora. An album was recorded in late ’83 under the working title of “Tough Talk” at Power Station with Tony Bongiovi co-producing; it was released with an eponymous title in the US on 24 January 1984 once it had been decided that the group should be called Bon Jovi. Runaway followed a couple of weeks later as their first single, but it wouldn’t see release in the UK until the autumn as She Don’t Know Me was chosen by their UK label, Vertigo, as the lead single here. Similarly, Mercury US and Vertigo UK disagreed over which would make the best lead single from Bon Jovi’s second album 7800° Fahrenheit: Mercury favoured Only lonely (a #54 hit there) while Vertigo went with Hardest Part Is The Night, which gave the band their first chart appearance here when it made #68.

NEW SINGLES on sale from Aug. 23
1985
BON JOVI (Jon Bon Jovi) Hardest Part Is The Night (Vertigo VER22)
Bryan FERRY Don’t Stop The Dance (EG FERRY2)
THOMPSON TWINS Don’t Mess With Doctor Dream (Arista TWINS9)

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