Thursday, June 20, 2024

BON JOVI 1984-94, A Photographic History by Ross Halfin

Bon Jovi is the latest book of pictures by photographer to the rock gods, Ross Halfin. It runs to 400 pages and this unique photographic book covers the band in the first decade of its existence, 84-94 when Bon Jovi hit the absolute heights of rock superstardom.

Said to be the band who bridged the gap between heavy metal and pop almost effortlessly, though they were originally marketed as a hard rock band in their early days, the music of Bon Jovi was a major part of the soundtrack of the mid to late 1980s for the first generation to be weaned on MTV. Their hit singles ‘Livin’ On A Prayer’ and ‘You Give Love A Bad Name’ were everywhere and the albums Slippery When Wet and New Jersey sold by the shedload, and this book captures a band at the very height of their pomp when they still arguably had a rock edge to their music.  

There are pictures galore of pearly white teeth, poodle hair and every rock pose in the rock guitarist manual as Halfin captures a band bestriding the globe like a colossus during what was their peak period of fame when, after New Jersey’s most famous son, Bruce Springsteen, became more introspective in his music, Bon Jovi became almost but not quite as famous.

For long-time fans of the band, this book will be manna from Heaven. Alongside many pictures of the band onstage, including one of Richie Sambora alongside a huge bank of amps (did they really use this many ?), there’re band backstage shots as well as poses by their private plane and well as various band members larking about, plus also some quite intimate poses of the man himself, with Bon Jovi looking thoughtful and pensive, as though he wasn’t aware he was being smudged, which Halfin admits in his intro he was only able to obtain because of his close connection to the band and to Jon Bon Jovi personally. In fact, such is Halfin’s degree of acceptance in top rock circles, many of the pictures featured in the book have never been published anywhere before, and had been scanned and digitally cleared for inclusion. One gripe is there’re plenty of pictures of the band playing stadia all over the world but no details of where are given, though I did recognise Wembley Stadium.

The book, however, is tinged with a little poignancy, as guitarist Richie Sambora, the man who helped define their eighties sound, features prominently and is now no longer in the band, as does bassist Alec John Such, who sadly died earlier in 2022.

A standard edition of the book will cost a mere £75, but the limited signed edition (only 300 copies will be available worldwide) will lighten your bank account to the tune of £299 !! But, if you’re a megafan, then it’s probably worth every penny.

Laurence Todd
Laurence Todd
Took early retirement after many years as a teacher in order to write books as well as about music. A long-time music obsessive, has wide and eclectic tastes but particularly likes prog rock and rock in general. Enjoys going to gigs and discovering new acts.

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