This article is dedicated to the memory of Bassist, Alec John Such (1951-2022).

Bon Jovi was one of my first favourite bands when I was growing up in the 80’s, consisting of frontman Jon Bon Jovi, guitarist Richie Sambora, bassist Alec John Such (my favourite member), keyboardist David Bryan and the mighty Tico Torres on the drums. I completely fell in love with the band when they released their third studio album, Slippery When Wet. That album was my transition band from the bubble-gum pop music of Duran Duran and Tear for Fears at 12 years old to a heavier sound as a music appreciator. I thrashed my first copy of the album on cassette until my ghetto blaster literally ate the tape. I then bought the picture disc on vinyl, which I still own as well as an original 86 vinyl copy (my brother’s) and a new cassette copy which I am listening to whilst I type this article. So, to say I am a fan of the band Bon Jovi is to reflect on a sonic bond that has existed for 35 years. Now on what will be Bon Jovi’s 40th anniversary they have finally come around to make an official documentary of the career to date called Thank You, Goodnight: The Bon Jovi Story and it is awesome! Long … but awesome!

As much of a fan as I am of Bon Jovi, I have drifted my attention over time to many different genres. Therefore, my engagement with the band, especially in the last 20 years, has wavered. However, I did see them in Wellington in 2010 and they killed. Subsequently on each album release I have always taken the time to listen to their latest body of work. I’m thrilled to say that Bon Jovi is one of the few or perhaps the only band to have remained honest and truthful to their art for 40 years.

Thank You, Goodnight: The Bon Jovi Story is a beautifully crafted docuseries on the entire history of the band from their inception in 1983 till now. It is a truly honest look into the inner workings of an artist and his band and the struggles of navigating a career of excess, fame and fortune. It starts in the present day as Jon Bon Jovi comes to terms with the natural physical challenges of being a relevant rock star in 2024 at 60 years old. His vocal chords are in a bad way and he is doing everything from vocal training to laser treatment to acupuncture and chiropractic treatments to return to the mic. What is painfully obvious is that Jovi and the band are aware they can only continue their art if all the instruments are available. The documentary follows his story in the present day as he struggles to return to the stage, whilst reflecting on the career of one of the most important rock bands of the 80s and beyond.




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The history of the band has most certainly had its ups and downs like any family. When you watch Thank you, Goodnight: The Bon Jovi Story you are left with a sense of a true family culture around the band and the brand that they end up becoming. The documentary is broken down into four episodes that navigate not only each decade but the major moments that affected the band and their art. Among the many challenges along the way is the line-up changes in the band. First to leave the line-up is bassist Alec John Such due to alcohol and drug problems in 1994 after the Keep the Faith tour. He is then replaced by the original bassist for the band Hugh McDonald, who remains to this day. The next departure comes nine years later with the sound defining departure of guitarist/vocalist/co-songwriter Richie Sambora. Sambora’s departure took everyone by surprise, especially the band. Richie is replaced by YouTube guitar tutor and personality Phil X. Phil X is also still the lead guitarist for the band to this day.

I’m of the opinion that every line-up change for Bon Jovi has helped the band stay relevant as well as develop their own sound and solidify it over the last four decades. Thank you, Goodnight: The Bon Jovi Story gives incredible insight from all the members of the band with the exception of bassist Alec John Such, who tragically passed away in 2022 from a sudden heart attack in his sleep.

The first episode takes us back to the very beginning of baby photos and shots of original homesteads in New Jersey. We get to see how Jovi rises like a phoenix from the middle class working background of growing up in the Jersey State. However, the most compelling part of this episode is learning about the early New Jersey music scene and of course the enduring friendship of Bruce Springsteen and Jon Bon Jovi. In an interesting scene, Jovi recalls that until he saw Springsteen on stage, he never believed his dreams were possible but the Boss changed all that. Springsteen appears in the documentary and his admiration for Jovi and his band is very clear by his words and smile. Furthermore, it was great to discover that Jovi’s first ever recording is on a Star Wars Christmas Album, and yes there is a hilarious sample of the song for all to enjoy in the documentary. But it is Jovi’s unwavering belief in himself and his still very evident love of music that keeps him curious and exciting as a musician to this day. The episode takes us all the way up to the writing of Slippery When Wet. As a fan I learnt so much I didn’t know about the band in this episode and how they developed the unique sound that becomes the band’s calling card and cements their success like a star on Hollywood Boulevard.

The second episode runs us through the mayhem and craziness that greets the band on the other side of their recording process in Vancouver for Slippery When Wet with Bruce Fairbairn and engineered by a very young Bob Rock, who would shortly go on to produce Mõtley Crüe’s magnum opus Dr Feelgood two years later and Metallica’s Black Album two years after that. The single ‘Living On A Prayer’ firmly books Bon Jovi a seat on the much desired rocket ship to fame and Doc McGee’s (the band’s manager) fortune, a running joke between him and the band. The carnage that ensues has to be seen to be believed, with montages of crazed fans and unreal concert footage. This era is when I personally discovered the band and learnt so much about those niggling little questions on why they did this or looked like that. The band wrote ‘Wanted Dead Or Alive’ early on, so they originally were considering a cowboy theme, even going so far to do photo shoots dressed up as cowboys. Then McGee learns of this and as their manager totally shuts it down, simply stating, “You’re from New Jersey, what the f*ck do you know about being cowboys?!” and therefore the cowboy theme is squashed. The band photo of them in their cowboy regalia can be found on the cover of their ‘Wanted Dead Or Alive’ single release. This episode is the longest of the four but given this is the moment that it really all happened for Bon Jovi, the length is totally justified.

The third episode is for me, personally, where the documentary started to get very interesting, as after 1992 these are the two decades of the band that I am less familiar with. You start to understand how Bon Jovi managed to navigate the gauntlet of the grunge phenomenon and survive. We get to see how the entire band burns out after 16 months on the New Jersey tour and Jovi marries his high school sweetheart Dorothy. Surprisingly everyone, including their parents and the band, are upset and worried that Jovi had ruined the brand now that the gorgeous lead singer was married and not the unattached dreamboat singer. By the end of the 80’s their long time manager Doc McGee had found himself into some troubling times and misdemeanours, just like you expect from the manager of Mõtley Crüe (one of the many bands McGee represented). The nature of these issues and their effect that leads to legalities puts the band in some very dicey situations that will leave you surprised. What is really heart-warming is how the band rallies around McGee after all he has done for them and helps him to redeem himself, like a karmic act of redemption. The episode covers most of the catalogue and changes over this decade in just the right amount of detail. Enough to get me curious about those years of the Bon Jovi catalogue and going back for a relisten of the albums I had written off years ago, only to be surprised at the quality of the songs and the performances in the recordings. The episode concludes in 2013 with the shock departure of guitarist Sambora due to foremost family issues as well as substance abuse following a broken arm.




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The forth and final episode follows the last ten years of the band and all the changes that follow when nearly all of them are navigating their 50s, except for the drummer Torres – that monster is dealing with his 60s! We are taken on the ride of Sambora’s departure and Phil X’s arrival and his eventual journey to becoming a full member of the band and completing 80 shows on their world tour. It is remarkable to think that between 2014 and 2019 Jovi was giving the middle finger to his guitar and not writing any music. Finally, the band return to New York’s old Power Station Recording Studio to record ‘This House Is Not For Sale’, with its profound lyrics of unity and family and how their legacy is not for sale. This is toured and quickly followed up by the Covid/Black Lives Matter movement inspired album ‘2020’, which shows a significant growth in Jovi’s song writing skills. However, this is where his vocal problems also start to rear their ugly head.

At this point the two narratives of the documentary series start to merge. As fans we get to understand what Jovi is going through and that he is not going to compromise his legacy by being that front man who didn’t know when to quit. But there is a stratospheric difference in hanging up the mic because your artist has well dried up, in comparison to the fact that your natural instrument is coming to its inevitable end. The one thing Jovi is renowned for is that incredible voice; you can’t restring it or buy new drum heads. He has the operation and hopes for the best, whilst doing everything at his deposal to ensure it is a success.

At the conclusion of the four episodes I found myself having great admiration, empathy and love for the artist/musician/songwriter Jon Bon Jovi and his band of merry men know as Bon Jovi, and their incredible ride. As a fan you sense his humanity towards all the tentacles that make up the enigma that is his life; the band, fans, crew, engineers, minders, producers, agents, managers, family, children, wife, and last but definitely not least, the music and therefore his art. However, even though the future for Bon Jovi and Jon’s voice is not clear, it is heartening to see his eyes light up as he mentions he has 26 finished songs in his notebook all ready to go! Thank You, Goodnight: The Bon Jovi Story is the documentary series you didn’t know you were waiting for but thank you Bon Jovi, the wait is finally over.


Thank You, Goodnight: The Bon Jovi Story is available on Disney + now!