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Unauthorized Bon Jovi book revisits band's rise to stardom

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Debauchery, drugs and drinking went hand in hand with hair metal throughout the 1980s. And whether by design or accident, with tremendous pride or with great shame, evidence of the artists’ real or fabricated rock ‘n’ roll behavior reached the public during those years.

Bon Jovi pretty much avoided having anything of that sort connected to the band’s image — until now.

Former Bon Jovi tour manager Rich Bozzett has written a book about the band’s early days and its ascent to superstardom called Sex, Drugs and Bon Jovi.

As Bozzett says in his book (which includes some rather racy photos involving singer Jon Bon Jovi), a series of recent, independent Bon Jovi-related events led him to write Sex, Drugs and Bon Jovi, which was released July 26 through Blumberg Corporate Services. The following day, Bozzett checked in with to talk about his book. How long were you Bon Jovi’s tour manager, and when and why did you part ways?
Rich Bozzett: “I worked for Doc McGhee first, and he signed a band called Bon Jovi. I met with Jon and the guys, and I was delegated to be their tour manager. I was the guy who took Jon out of his mom’s house, through the early days all the way through the Slippery When Wet and New Jersey tours.

“I was cut out by McGhee, the band’s manager, because he didn’t want to pay what was owed to me — what was promised to me. It happens a lot in the business. Many guys get promised things; you’re young and naïve and don’t get it on paper.”

In an interview with WYSP-FM’s Danny Bonaduce, you said your book was “very Bon Jovi-friendly.” How so? The title alone suggests otherwise.
Bozzett: “It goes into the making of the band — from selling a few tickets to millions of tickets and albums. I tell the whole story about that, which is obviously Bon Jovi-favorable.”

A lot of hard-rock bands in the 1980s benefited from their well-publicized rock ‘n’ roll lifestyle. If Bon Jovi did indeed party it up back then, why do you think Jon and the rest of the band kept everything under wraps?
Bozzett: “Well, the band Bon Jovi was kind of softer; they weren’t a super-heavy metal band. They were more of a pop band … so that squeaky-clean image kind of stayed with them.”

Why do you think nobody else from Bon Jovi’s past has written a book like yours?
Bozzett: “Because nobody really knows him like I do. I was with him every second of the day, 24/7. Many people weren’t around Bon Jovi on the first two albums, which [covered] almost four years: 1983 to 1986. I was the person with them all the time, so there’s no insider like me. In theory, I was almost considered a sixth band member — on the pension, the health insurance. I was in on everything the band was in on, [but] I wasn’t in on a personal percentage that Jon gave the band. No other people were that close to Jon.”

Have you heard from Bon Jovi’s lawyers about your book?
Bozzett: “Not yet. I heard that they ordered one right away when Howard Stern [talked about it] on his radio show. He was doing a standby with Mike Walker from The National Enquirer, and Howard was humming ‘Livin’ on a Prayer’ during the commercial break. And Mike says, ‘You like Bon Jovi?’ And Howard says, ‘I love Bon Jovi.’ And Mike says, ‘I got an early release of [Sex, Drugs and Bon Jovi]. I was reading it, and it’s great, and it’s got you and your daughter in it.’ And Howard says, ‘What’s my daughter doing in Sex, Drugs and Bon Jovi?’ … and they kept dragging it out on the air for like three minutes.”

A little mention on Howard’s show can go a long way.
Bozzett: “Yeah, exactly.”

— Introduction and interview by Chris M. Junior