How Bon Jovi Built Toward Huge Success With ‘7800 Degrees Fahrenheit’
Bon Jovi’s sophomore album – allegedly titled based on the melting point of rock – arrived on March 27, 1985 under immense pressure to perform. The band's eponymous debut, after all, had surprisingly peaked at No. 43 the year before, thanks largely to the fluky success of “Runaway.”
The irony, of course, was that their first single dated from a time before the band had even properly assembled around lead singer Jon Bon Jovi. And so, 7800 Degrees Fahrenheit was actually the first album recorded almost entirely with lead guitarist Richie Sambora, keyboardist David Bryan, bassist Alec John Such and drummer Tico Torres.
Trouble loomed early in the sessions, held over roughly six weeks at the start of 1985 at Philadelphia’s Warehouse Studios with producer Lance Quinn. Bon Jovi didn’t come away too impressed with Quinn – whose resume, in fairness, isn't exactly packed with hit albums – and have since virtually disowned 7800 Degrees Fahrenheit. Few of its 10 songs are ever played in concert, despite their popularity with fans.
In fact, both “Only Lonely” and “In and Out of Love” cracked the Mainstream Rock Chart's Top 40, while “Tokyo Road” became a fan favorite in (where else?) Japan. Two more, “The Hardest Part is the Night” and ballad “Silent Night,” also gave Mercury Records something to promote well into 1986. Moreover, deeper album cuts like “Price of Love,” “Always Run to You” and “Secret Dreams” boasted mainstream hard rock hooks aplenty, while walking a fine line between Sambora's aggressive leads and Bryan’s synthesizer sweetening. The veteran rhythm section of Such and Torres, meanwhile, never showed off – but never failed to deliver, either.
Bon Jovi’s extensive tours in support of 7800 Degrees Fahrenheit saw the hungry quintet headlining in Japan and continental Europe between April and May, then returning to America to play support on Ratt's Invasion of Your Privacy tour. Those dates lasted from July through December, with a quick trip to perform at the Donington Monsters of Rock Festival on Aug. 17. There, Bon Jovi ironically played third on the bill to Ratt’s fifth – with Metallica sandwiched in between.
The time out on the road paid off. Whatever Bon Jovi’s later misgivings, the gold-selling 7800 Degrees Fahrenheit outperformed its predecessor, peaking at No. 37 and hanging around the Top 200 for an impressive 85 weeks. The album went platinum in early 1987. Of course, by then 7800 Degrees Fahrenheit had been categorically eclipsed by the mega-selling Slippery When Wet – and Bon Jovi was hotter than ever.
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