Bon Jovi – You give love a bad name
You're a loaded gun, yeah
There's nowhere to run
No one can save me, the damage is done
Shot through the heart and you're to blame
You give love a bad name (bad name)
On July 23rd, 1986 something very important happened for rock music and in particular for the career of Bon Jovi. With the release of You give love a bad name, which anticipated the album Slippery when wet by about a month, we can say that the absolutely worldwide phase of the fame of this great group began.
A couple of years earlier Bon Jovi had managed to secure a major contract with Polygram. Until then their fame was more or less limited to the New York and New Jersey areas, but a record company wanted to believe in them and in Jon Bon Jovi’s ambition. Not that the record company guy was completely convinced, since he commented by saying that at that time Bon Jovi could sing a maximum of five notes, and also out of tune, but let’s say that he was convinced by his determination and his desire for success.
Various things sprang from that contract, such as the album 7800° Fahrenheit, released in 1985, which was quite successful. Above all from that experience they started a collaboration with a man that was fundamental for the career of Bon Jovi, Desmond Child. Desmond was a very talented musician, songwriter and collaborator, and for example he was one of the authors of I was made for lovin’ you by Kiss. His contribution to the lyrics and sounds of the album Slippery when wet was fundamental, as was the alchemy that was established between him and the members of the band.
Legend has it that the first day Desmond Child met Jon Bon Jovi and Richie Sambora, they immediately set to work on a song for the new album. The curious thing is that in other interviews Bon Jovi declared that the song was composed (always by these three characters), in a basement at the home of Richie Sambora’s mother. So I like to think that the first time Jon and Richie meet Desmond Child, and they decide where to go to do some brainstorming, instead of going to some production studio or maybe the record company offices, Sambora walks out and says “But why don’t we go to the basement at my mom’s house?”. And everyone reacts enthusiastically to the idea.
Anyway, Desmond Child arrives with an idea. There is a song he wrote a couple of years before that was a bit of a hit, but he would like to rewrite it for them. The song is If you were a woman (and I was a man), which was sung by Bonnie Tyler, I must say also with a great interpretation and a video in the style of Relax by Frankie Goes to Hollywood, where Bonnie Tyler appears at the top of her sensuality. Bonnie Tyler’s song and Bon Jovi’s song obviously have very similar refrains.
In short, Desmond seems to have just made Bon Jovi listen to the song, and say “I would also like to change the title, make it more rock, I had something like You give love a bad name in mind”, when Jon Bon Jovi immediately jumps in with the first line and says “Shot through the heart…” and in short, a few hours later one of the symbolic songs of Bon Jovi’s entire career was born.
A few weeks later they also began to work on the next song, Livin ‘on a prayer, and among other things it seems that the Tommy mentioned in the song was Desmond Child himself, and in short, from this magical understanding the worldwide success of Slippery When Wet was born, and Bon Jovi’s incredible career took off forever.
One last curiosity: where does the album title come from? Bon Jovi were recording in Vancouver, in their producer’s studios. On free evenings they would go to relieve their loneliness in a strip club called No. 5 Orange, where it seems that their favorite attraction was a dancer who came down a pole like firefighters do, and started to get undressed. Eventually, however, the girl moved to another area of the stage where there was a real shower, and the boys loved to see her soaping herself; evidently they were absolute hygienists.
In a nutshell: obviously the stage got wet when she showered, so the managers had put up huge signs saying “Slippery When Wet”. Bon Jovi considered that it was fair to remember these moments of culture by putting on their album the title they read so often on the signs, which had brought them so much inspiration!
Bon Jovi on Wikipedia