Why Bon Jovi Stayed the Course on the Blockbuster ‘New Jersey’
Bon Jovi released their fourth album on Sept. 19, 1988. Named after their home state, New Jersey struck while the iron was still hot.
They worked hard to record quickly in the wake of the multi-platinum, mega-hit-spawning album Slippery When Wet. Impressively, New Jersey was released just a little more than two years after Slippery hit stores, despite the fact that the group had spent much of that time crisscrossing the globe touring in support of their breakthrough 1986 album.
Bon Jovi also made sure not to mess with their winning formula, employing the same producer, songwriters and recording studio used on their previous album.
They repeated another, more unusual move, as reported in an 1989 Rolling Stone interview with the group: Playing dozens of new songs for a focus group of fans and letting their votes help decide which songs would wind up on the record.
Watch Bon Jovi's 'Bad Medicine' Video
While many peers and music lovers might say that letting this kind of market research influence creative decisions proves that they were too corporate-minded, Bon Jovi insisted it was done to make fans happy.
"Musicians get the records for free, critics get the records for free -- kids buy the records," guitarist Richie Sambora explained. "If they're happy, that's what makes me happy. I'm not here to make the guy in Metallica happy. We depend on the public as our barometer."
Their public sure didn't let them down, sending New Jersey straight to the top of the charts. No less than five singles – that's Michael Jackson territory – from the record hit the Top 10 on the pop chart, including "Bad Medicine," "Born to Be My Baby" and "I'll Be There for You."