Is Bon Jovi about to go the way of past rock hotshots--splitsville?
That's been the hot topic on the rock rumor mills here and in England, where the pop press has been predicting the band's demise. Industry insiders here have been whispering about conflicts between singer Jon Bon Jovi and guitarist Richie Sambora, and saying that the hugely successful band is planning to release a live hits album--then take off in separate directions.
You can expect even more heated speculation when pop fans hear the latest news: Jon Bon Jovi is in the studio here, recording an album tentatively called "Blaze of Glory." Tied to the release of 20th Century Fox's upcoming "Young Guns II," the album should hit the stores Aug. 1, with eight new Jon Bon Jovi songs, including the title cut, "Billy Get Your Guns," "Bang a Drum," "Justice in a Barrel" and a pair of orchestral pieces from the film.
Bon Jovi is working with such musicians as guitarist Jeff Beck, Elton John, keyboardist Benmont Tench (from Tom Petty's band), drummer Kenny Aronoff (from John Cougar Mellencamp's band), bassist Randy Jackson and guitarist Waddy Wachtel.
But whatever you do--don't call "Blaze of Glory" a solo album!
"It is absolutely \o7 not \f7 the Jon Bon Jovi solo album," said JBJ himself, who took time out for a good-natured chat during a recording session last week. "It's just a sidestep for me. It's not my stepping away from the band."
But what about the buzz about the band breakup? "I don't know," Bon Jovi said coyly. "Maybe. And maybe not. I really can't say anything about it yet."
Even if JBJ didn't offer a firm denial of rumors of Bon Jovi's impending demise, he did clear the air about his relationship with Sambora. "We get along great. We talk nearly every day--probably more than we ever have. In fact, I'm going to be writing with him when he makes his solo album.
"Hey, this band gave me every dream I ever wanted. I'd take a bullet for any of these guys. But do I want to start work on a Bon Jovi tour tomorrow? No. Do I want to start the next Bon Jovi album tomorrow? No."
JBJ took off last fall ("on a plane by myself, without a band or road manager") to visit pal Emilio Estevez on the set of "Young Guns II." Not wanting to arrive empty-handed, he brought along a new song, "Blaze of Glory." When the film's producers asked if they could use it in the movie, JBJ promptly wrote several more: "When they liked them, I said, 'OK, I'll do a whole album.' "
In an era of shameless show-biz synergy, where Madonna's every bump n grind seems aimed at hyping "Dick Tracy," the resulting album is something of a pop orphan. Jon Bon Jovi insists it's not a solo album--and his label, PolyGram Records, confirms that the album won't have a picture of Bon Jovi on its cover. But it's not an official sound track either.
"It's a project inspired by 'Young Guns II,' but probably only three of Jon's songs will be in the movie," said PolyGram Records vice president Steve Pritchitt, who is trying to rush the record's first single, "Blaze of Glory," out by July 1. "The cover art stands to be the 'Young Guns' logo. But we're still unsure what we'll call the album. It could be 'Blaze of Glory' or it could be 'Music From and Inspired by "Young Guns II." ' But that's rather awkward."
He laughed. "I'm still open to suggestions."
Whatever you call the record, Jon Bon Jovi is up for a challenge. "It's scary making a record without the band," he said. "But I want the opportunity to grow. After selling 30 million Bon Jovi albums, I've achieved a lot. How much bigger places can you play? It's time to have some fun. Bon Jovi is still my heart, but this album is my new eyes."