Just Gettin’ Started
Today is this man’s 50th birthday, and I’m pretty sure a lot of us would beg to look as good as he does. However, if you choose to believe that this man’s contribution to the world lies only in his rugged good looks, then you have merely scratched the surface of who he truly is. You see, he’s spent the last almost 30 years of his life trying to prove to the world that he’s more than just a pretty face. For nearly 23 years, he’s been Dorothea’s husband…his high school sweetheart. If you ask him how he’s stayed married given the life of a rock star, he’ll tell you he got lucky on the first try and that nothing that would break up his marriage is worth doing to lose the greatness he already has. He is father to Stephanie Rose, Jesse James Louis, Jacob Hurley, and Romeo Jon, but “family man” is only one hat he wears.
He’s been the CEO of one of the most lucrative rock bands in the history of the music industry for more than 20 years. He’s not the CEO in name only, either. He actually runs that organization like a Fortune 500 company. His Island Records contract is only between Jon and the record company. Richie, Tico, Dave, and the other band members are employed by Jon Bon Jovi Enterprises. And before you start to think how self-centered that sounds, Richie, Tico, and Dave aren’t complaining about being millionaires any day of their lives.
But beyond the music, he has been a philanthropist in big ways and small ways but almost always in quiet ways. He purchased a controlling interest in the Philadelphia Soul Arena Football League team with its main goal being to give back to the community rather than win championships. His Soul Foundation revitalized some of the most financially devastated areas of Philadelphia and continues to do so. Oh, and they did just happen to win the Arena Football League Championship. After Hurricane Katrina, Jon and the band gave enough money to Oprah’s Angel Network to build an entire street (aptly named Bon Jovi Blvd.) worth of houses in Gray, Louisiana including a neighborhood park for the kids. More recently, he has parlayed his desire to do more good than bad into a venture called the Soul Kitchen: “A community restaurant with no prices on the menu; customers donate to pay for their meal. If you are unable to donate you may do volunteer work in exchange for your family’s meal.”
All of that, and he’s a pretty darn good singer and musician, too.
For more than half his life, he’s been telling our stories. Our loves. Our losses. Our failures. Our triumphs. Our convictions. Our anger. He’s most likely a part of any and every night of karaoke. His songs have been a pipeline to our soul, so much so that he was inducted into the Songwriter’s Hall of Fame in 2009. And I continue to hold out hope that the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame will one day come to their senses and induct him there, too.
That’s quite a punch he’s packed into his first 50 years on this earth, but if his track record is any indication, he’s just gettin’ started, and the next 50 years are gonna be one heck of a ride.
Happy Birthday, John Francis Bongiovi, Jr. You’ll always be more than a pretty face with great hair to me. Remember, you’re not old…Just Older.