In his lifetime, Jon Bon Jovi has played more than 2,500 gigs in more than 50 countries, in front of more than 32 million people, and sold more than 100 million albums. He’s the quintessential rock star, and he’s had a life filled with all the madness and temptation of that stardom. And while Bon Jovi has no interest in being a role model, he is, by default, a great one. Over 10 years ago, he founded the JBJ Soul Foundation, which has helped thousands of economically challenged people in America, including youth and veterans, by providing affordable and supportive housing across 10 states. Last year, he launched two branches of a concept restaurant, Soul Kitchen, in New Jersey, which provides nutritious meals in a warm environment where you pay what you can afford. He’s also been married to Dorothea, his high school sweetheart, for almost 30 years. Here, Bon Jovi tells the story of how he proposed, a major defining moment for any man. But what’s unique about this tale is that the rocker chose to invest himself in another person at the exact moment he could have been led into a life of narcissism. It says a lot about the importance of fending off one’s own ego in order to find happiness. Other defining moments can be seen on my site, bestlifeonline.com. –Dave Zinczenko
I met my future wife in 1980, in high school, We were in the same class. Dorothea was going out with one of those guys who joined the service. He left town, and hey, you know the five-second rule when you drop a piece of toast on the ground? I gave him three weeks. We started dating, and that was the end of that.
It took us a long time to get married, though. It was 1989 and our album New Jersey was out. We had the No. 1 album, the No. 1 single, and we were playing three nights at the Forum in L.A. We were staying at the St. James’s Club, which is that beautiful art deco hotel on the Sunset Strip across from the old Hyatt House. I pulled the curtain back in my room, and there’s a billboard of me staring right back.
I turned to Dorothea and said, “I got an idea. Why don’t we go right now?” She said, “You’re out of your mind.” I said, “Come on. What’s better than this, right now, this moment?”
And so we ran off to Las Vegas. Didn’t tell a soul. We took a little shuttle plane, jumped in a cab, and didn’t even stay the night. The cab driver was the witness. We got back to L.A. before closing time, and that was a Saturday, so we didn’t see anyone on Sunday. Then on Monday it was on Entertainment Tonight: Guess what, Bon Jovi got married! But in that moment, we decided it was just about us.
I’ve been in one of the biggest rock bands in the world for over 30 years, and I’m not a saint. And, Christ, I missed tons of birthdays and school plays. But it’s not like Dorothea came in halfway through the movie and didn’t know who she got, and the divorce settlement is this because of that. She’s been in it the whole game. She understands what it means. It’s my life, and it is what it is.
But I don’t look at this week’s hot starlet and think about trading in or trading up. I don’t have a mistress on the side or another family across town. You’re never going to read that story about me. I have no regard for that whole lifestyle. Why? Because these are things I know: I don’t give a fuck that I just sold out 10 nights at the arena. It’s just what I do. It’s just a job. I get paid well for it, and I get to wear a T-shirt and dirty jeans. But I don’t really give a fuck about the rest of it, because it’s a shallow pool, man. When you’ve been at it this long, you know it’s a real shallow pool.