How Bon Jovi Dug Deep on ‘100,000,000 Bon Jovi Fans Can’t Be Wrong’
100,000,000 Bon Jovi Fans Can't Be Wrong didn't just name-check his most ardent followers. This multi-disc collection of B-sides and rarities, released on Nov. 16, 2004, made them part of the process.
That started with the idea for the collection, which focused on giving the group's die-hard fans something unusual. "Usually 'boxed set' means some sort of rehashed greatest hits or rearranged masters, or some sort of different packaged stuff you've heard already," keyboardist David Bryan told Billboard. Bon Jovi engineer "Obie [O'Brien] just went back into the tapes and said, 'Let's make something for the fans. If [you were] a fan of the band, what would you want to hear?' You wouldn't want to hear stuff you've heard already."
The title also directly referenced a new milestone in the history of the band's two decades of music making -- 100 million albums sold worldwide. (Elvis Presley had provided the inspiration, having issued a compilation in 1959 called 50,000,000 Elvis Fans Can't Be Wrong.) Over an expanse of four CDs and a DVD, the project explored unheard sounds which provided context for everything that came before.
This backlog of leftovers came courtesy of the prolific writing tandem of Jon Bon Jovi and Richie Sambora. "To get to the 10 or 12 songs on the record, we would write anywhere between 30 and 50 songs, to make sure we found a good direction," Sambora told Billboard. "There was lots and lots of material that we had in our vault, and we thought that it would be great for people to hear. You know, you go back and listen to that stuff and go, 'Hey, why didn't this song make the record?'"
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In the set's liner notes, Bon Jovi said the group finalized the original albums' track listing by creating a narrative flow from beginning to end. Outtakes were left to the side not based on their relative worth but rather on how they fit that larger context. That gave 100,000,000 Bon Jovi Fans Can't Be Wrong its share of strong material.
To complete the project, Bon Jovi even solicited essays and anecdotes from fans, to be included in the set's booklet. "They've been part of this journey," Bon Jovi told Billboard. "[We wanted to give] back to those people who are the ones that give us the opportunity to still be here 20 years on." He says they received almost 5,000 emails in the first week after the band asked for comments via the official Bon Jovi website.