The Story of Bon Jovi’s ‘New Jersey’
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On Sept. 13, 1988, Bon Jovi released their fourth album, named after their home state, New Jersey.
Knowing it was wise to strike while the iron — in this case, their multi-platinum, mega-hit-spawning album Slippery When Wet — was still hot, the band worked hard to complete the record quickly. Impressively, New Jersey was released just a little more than two years after Slippery hit stores, despite the fact that the group had spent much of that time crisscrossing the globe touring in support of its breakthrough 1986 album.
Bon Jovi also made sure not to mess with their winning formula, employing the same producer, songwriters and recording studio used on their previous album. As a Feb. 2, 1989, Rolling Stone interview with the group explained, they repeated another, more unusual move as well: playing dozens of new songs for a focus group of fans and letting their votes help decide which songs would wind up on the record.
While many peers and music lovers might say that letting this kind of market research influence creative decisions proves that they were too corporate-minded, Bon Jovi insisted it was done to make fans happy. As guitarist Richie Sambora explained, “Musicians get the records for free, critics get the records for free — kids buy the records. If they’re happy, that’s what makes me happy. I’m not here to make the guy in Metallica happy. We depend on the public as our barometer.”
Well, what can you say? Their public sure didn’t let them down, sending New Jersey straight to the top of the charts. No less than five singles — that’s Michael Jackson territory — from the record hit the Top 10 on the pop charts, including “Bad Medicine,” “Born to Be My Baby” and “I’ll Be There for You.”
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