Back in the ’80s and ’90s, no one in the music industry could compete with Jon Bon Jovi and Richie Sambora’s songwriting skills. The duo produced dozens of major hits that still get air time on the radio decades later. However, even some of the band’s biggest fans don’t know that an old high school buddy inspired this number-one song.
‘He never even played a season’ recalled Jon Bon Jovi
We all had big dreams as teenagers and often even bigger hearts. In an interview with American Songwriter in the early ’90s, Bon Jovi recalled writing “Livin’ on a Prayer” about his friend’s relationship. “‘Prayer’ is about a guy and his wife who got married as soon as they got out of high school,” Bon Jovi explained.
“I remember getting out of school that summer and going to a wedding and losing my mind because I was gonna be a rock star, and he was gonna be on the New York Yankees. He never even played a season. He’s got two beautiful kids now and a nice job, but the glove hangs in the closet with those pinstripes forever.”
Like his friend, the musician also married his high school sweetheart, Dorothea Hurley, in 1989. However, Bon Jovi managed to maintain his relationship while following his dreams, which is no easy feat. He and Hurley are still together today and have four children together.
Jon Bon Jovi and Richie Sambora surprised people with their writing flow
While reflecting on how they wrote “Stick To Your Guns,” Bon Jovi compared how he and Sambora worked together to a fax machine because the lyrics would come together quickly. Remember, they made this comparison in the early ’90s, so it was suitable for the times. So it’s no surprise that their writing flow often surprised people who watched them.
In the same American Songwriter interview, the music duo discussed how they worked together so well. “The best collaborators are people that can pick up on somebody’s better qualities and use that to his or her advantage,” said Bon Jovi.
Sambora elaborated, “There’s an understanding of the objective and the goal. That’s important. Also, a respect and a non-egotistical look at your own material.”
‘Wanted Dead or Alive’ was inspired by the band’s cowboy lifestyle
Bon Jovi and Sambora discussed their inspiration behind songs like “Wanted Dead or Alive,” which have obvious western themes. While Bon Jovi explained he’s a big Clint Eastwood fan, Sambora’s inspiration came from what he considered a cowboy lifestyle. “Take Nashville for example,” Sambora explained.
“We get in at 5 PM, I do a sound check, sing a couple of Elvis songs, now I’m doing an interview. I’ve got to meet contest winners and all this kind of thing. I’m busier than hell between now and the time I hit the stage. I hit the stage, I’m off the stage. I take a shower, get in the van, and I’m gone. It’s like riding into town, robbing the bank, drinking the booze, stealing the women, and leaving before the sheriff gets here. It’s really what I do for a living. I’m a cowboy.”
Unfortunately, these modern-day cowboys haven’t collaborated in years, as Sambora left the band in 2013. However, in February, Sambora claimed he and Bon Jovi discussed a reunion, so fans might not have seen the last of these two just yet!