Return of the poodle rockers!
Published 06/06/2008 | 00:00
They've been derided as poodle-haired rockers and a poor man's Bruce Springsteen, but after 25 years Bon Jovi -- who play Punchestown Racecourse in Co Kildare tomorrow -- remain one of the most popular rock bands on the planet.
Once your typical fast-living rockers, the New Jersey four-piece have quietened down of late: now they drink only tea and minerals before gigs, travel with a chiropractor and always have a ready supply of cough drops to hand.
Drummer Tico Torres, who was once married to Wonderbra model Eva Herzigova, revealed: "We used to do 250 shows a year and it nearly destroyed us. So we've now cut back to 100, which is much better. We don't have to be away from our families for so long anymore. But it's still a great honour to be out there playing. It's us being in a gang again.
"In Europe, the crowds entertain us as much as we entertain them. But life on tour can still be hard. I had three hernia discs a few months back. But I wore braces and went onstage and smiled. You have to. And you eventually get lost in the music."
Torres now has a four-year-old son and is in a new relationship. He and Eva divorced in 1999. Another happily settled member of the band is lead singer Jon Bon Jovi. He and his wife Dorothea have four children -- Romeo, Stephanie Rose, Jesse James and Jacob Hurley.
Bon Jovi is a long-time supporter of Hillary Clinton. He reportedly calls her "Mrs C" and she called on him to add a little celebrity gloss to her failed presidential campaign.
The pair have been friends for more than a decade, uniting for state dinners at the White House and campaign fundraisers in the Hamptons. Now 45, off-stage the singer campaigns on such issues as poverty and affordable housing. And his attention to those causes has earned him an audience with some of the most prominent names of the American political establishment.
Bon Jovi's high visibility recently triggered speculation in gossip columns that he had designs on running for office, possibly governor, because he is keeping his estate in New Jersey, even though he and his family spend most of their time in Manhattan now. But the singer has dismissed the rumours. Life as a rock star, he said, suits him quite well. In a recent interview in London, he recounted a conversation with former President Bill Clinton about two years ago. The two were on a flight to Maryland for a day of horse racing at Pimlico with some friends when someone asked them to compare occupations. Jon jokingly said: "Mine is best, because I get to keep the plane and the house!"
In the 2000 presidential campaign, he held a fundraiser at his Middletown home for Al Gore. And at campaign rallies, Jon and fellow band member Richie Sambora performed acoustic renditions of their hits. He remains friends with Gore.
In 2004, Bon Jovi hosted an event for John Kerry at his home. And this year, he donated $2,300 to Mrs Clinton, as much as he is allowed to under the law. "I have no issue with a woman in power," he said. "My life has always been run by women. If it wasn't my mother, it was my wife. And if it wasn't my wife, it was my daughter."
But while Bon Jovi has forsaken his wild ways for politics, guitarist Sambora's personal life has been troubled of late. He is currently facing a drink-driving charge in Los Angeles, where he was apprehended by police. He divorced his wife Heather Locklear and subsequently took up with one of her best friends, the actress Denise Richards.
Denise accompanied him to Ireland when the band last performed here -- in Croke Park in 2006. But they spent hardly any time here, jetting out in a private plane after the show. Locklear was reportedly devastated when Denise -- formerly married to actor Charlie Sheen-- and Sambora became a couple.
Onstage in Munich last week, Bon Jovi rocked out for 72,000 German fans -- all seemingly oblivious to the teeming rain. With the smell of frankfurters and beer in the air, they punched out hits such as Livin' On A Prayer, Wanted: Dead Or Alive, I'll Sleep When I'm Dead, You Give Love A Bad Name and the recent Lost Highway.
Bon Jovi declared that Munich was his second home, but he'll probably say the same thing when he gets to Ireland. No slackers, the band played for two-and-a-half hours, and the show featured state-of-the-art giant video screens and special effects.
Bon Jovi play Punchestown Racecourse tomorrow