The Tragic Real-Life Story Of Bon Jovi

Bon Jovi is a household name. One of the most successful American rock bands of the last 40 years, the group has sold tens of millions albums, all loaded with hook-filled, arena rock anthems like "Livin' on a Prayer," "Bad Medicine," and "You Give Love a Bad Name." And then there are those epic power ballads, like "Wanted Dead or Alive" and "Always." Bon Jovi's success is also unique in that the band more or less launched the '80s hair metal era, and they're the last band standing from that era. That's because Bon Jovi has adapted and evolved its sound, but the group has never lost the catchy, pop radio-friendly hooks or the charisma of its frontman and namesake, Jon Bon Jovi.

Of course, while money and fame can make life a lot easier, they don't fix all your problems. And even if you're incredibly talented, you'll still struggle with an incredible amount of grief. And the guys in Bon Jovi are no exception. The core members of the band are in their 50s and 60s now, and they've lived lives as hard or even harder than the people they write songs about. In other words, these rockers have dealt with some serious tragedies. Here are some of the darker and more challenging moments in the otherwise sunny lives of the members of Bon Jovi.

Jon Bon Jovi contemplated suicide

Jon Bon Jovi and his eponymous band toiled for years to make it big, and they finally did when back-to-back singles "You Give Love a Bad Name" and "Livin' on a Prayer" topped the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart. The band worked hard to break through, playing concerts around the world for the better part of 1985, followed in close succession by the release of "Slippery When Wet" and the support tour that took up most of 1986 and 1987. Plus, they had to prepare to head into the studio to record the 1988 album, "New Jersey." 

Achieving that kind of success — and maintaining that success and fulfilling all the duties it requires — can leave a person physically, mentally, and emotionally drained, and according to The Mirror, that's how Jon Bon Jovi was feeling in the early '90s when he suffered a "breakdown." In fact, those feelings were so awful and so strong that he almost made a devastating decision. While on his way to see a psychologist in 1991, Bon Jovi was driving along the Pacific Coast Highway in California, and he considered jumping out of the moving car and ending it all. Fortunately, that didn't happen, and Jon Bon Jovi is still with us today.

If you or someone you know is having suicidal thoughts, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or text HOME to the Crisis Text Line at 741741.

Bon Jovi's guitarist has struggled with addiction

According to Rolling Stone, there were rumors flying around the set of "Unplugged," when Bon Jovi taped its 2007 episode, that Richie Sambora was too drunk to play guitar. His team denied that taping was a problem, but nevertheless, a few days after the June 5th session, a band representative told Us Magazine that Sambora had checked into a Los Angeles drug treatment facility to address his problem with alcohol. 

A source also told Us Magazine that Sambora was "going through a hard time" following a rapid chain of stressful events that included the finalization of his divorce from Heather Locklear, a split with girlfriend Denise Richards, and the death of his father. A few months later, per People, Sambora spent an additional week in rehab at Utah's Cirque Lodge facility. Addiction recovery is a journey, and sometimes that road is rocky. According to TMZ, Sambora had to admit himself to a drug treatment center once more in 2011.

If you or anyone you know is struggling with addiction issues, help is available. Visit the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration website or contact SAMHSA's National Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP (4357).

Richie Sambora was arrested for drunk driving with kids in the car

While it's no secret that Richie Sambora has dealt with dependencies on drugs and alcohol, those struggles were primarily in private and not of a criminal nature. That changed late one night in March 2008. According to the Chicago Tribune, a police officer in Laguna Beach, California, noticed a black Hummer weaving through lanes. He pulled over the vehicle and found Sambora driving ... with his girlfriend and two children also in the car, one of whom was his 10-year-old daughter, Ava. (It was later reported by the Boston Herald that the other child in the car was Ava's cousin.) 

After failing field sobriety tests, Sambora was arrested, booked, and released about five hours later. The guitarist faced as many as six months in prison, but he ultimately pleaded no contest to a charge of drunk driving. That prevented Sambora from imprisonment, as well as a dismissal of charges of DUI and child endangerment. Sambora paid a total of $1,600 in fines, received three years of probation, and was ordered to attend an alcohol education class.

A parasite nearly killed Bon Jovi's keyboard player

While on a hiatus in the early '90s and before recording its fifth studio album, "Keep the Faith," Bon Jovi's members pursued various projects. Jon Bon Jovi recorded his solo debut, "Blaze of Glory," and Richie Sambora made his record, "Stranger in This Town." Bon Jovi keyboardist David Bryan played all over Sambora's album while also recording a soundtrack for the movie "Netherworld" ... and he also spent a large portion of the Bon Jovi hiatus recovering from parasites he believes he acquired when the band toured through South America. 

These dangerous creatures absolutely ravaged Bryan and could have killed him. "They ate out my intestines and my stomach and put me out of commission for about six months," Bryan told Keyboard in 1993. Thanks to these nasty little critters, Bryan was left extremely ill in a hospital bed for about two weeks, and during the process, he lost a whopping 40 pounds. In other words, even though the band was taking a break, it's not like Bryan had a relaxing time. 

David Bryan sliced off part of a finger

Fingers are important to everyone but especially to those who make their living fiddling with musical instruments for a living. Perhaps it would be most problematic for a professional keyboardist to lose one of their digits, and that almost happened to Bon Jovi electric-ivory-tickler David Bryan. While he was using a power circular saw, the tool slipped and sliced through the index finger on his right hand, removing the bad all the way to the bone. 

"I looked at my hand, bleeding all over, and I thought, 'It's over. I f***ed up.' It was real bad," he told Keyboard. After a year in which he couldn't play keyboards, owing to surgery and reconstructive measures, doctors told him he still would never regain the use of the finger. Then he began physical therapy, where "the lightest touch made my finger feel like it was gettin' slammed in a car door." Bryan subjected himself to nerve resetting, which, for three hours a day and five days a week, consisted of "poking and prodding, by jamming your hand in sawdust, rocks, Legos, and ice. And by giving it shocks." After all that work, Bryan says his finger finally got "back to normal."

The stormy life of Bon Jovi's drummer

Despite being the drummer in an incredibly successful band for nearly 40 years, Tico Torres has kept his personal life relatively quiet. It wasn't until 2009, with the Bon Jovi documentary "When We Were Beautiful" (via "Bon Jovi: America's Ultimate Band"), that he opened up about his struggles with addiction. As of the making of that film, Torres considered himself a sober, recovering alcoholic. "I was killing myself with drinking years ago. I was the kind of person who wouldn't drink for months and then just load off two bottles." His bandmate, Jon Bon Jovi, confirmed it. "He had a lot of demons," he said. "He was a really bad drunk ... a very mean, mean man. He'd get in a lot of trouble with a lot of people."

Torres' personal life has been tumultuous in other ways, too. He's been married three times. The first ended before Bon Jovi found fame, and his second was with model Eva Herzivoa, as per Deseret News. The two wed in a Jersey shore ceremony in which Jon Bon Jovi and Richie Sambora were ushers, and the guests included Donald and Marla Trump. The marriage was over by 1998, however, reports Vogue. Then in 2001, Torres got married once more, to model Maria Alejandra. But things only got more complicated a few months later when Cinzia Spalletti — Torres' partner in his kids clothing company, Rock Star Baby — sued the drummer for allegedly trying to kick her out of the company and replace her with Alejandra.

Jon Bon Jovi's daughter overdosed on heroin

In 1989, Jon Bon Jovi married Dorothea Hurley, his longtime love whom he met in high school, as per Today. As People reports, they've raised four kids together, starting off with eldest, daughter Stephanie Rose Bongiovi (that's the family's real last name). Sadly, the family has had their share of struggles. 

In November 2012, police and paramedics were summoned to a dormitory at Hamilton College in upstate New York in response to a call that a young woman was unresponsive, possibly due to a heroin overdose. That woman was 19-year-old Stephanie Bongiovi, who was treated and quickly released from a local hospital. After a search of her room uncovered heroin and other narcotics-related materials, Bongiovi was arrested and charged with multiple misdemeanor counts of drug possession. The criminal offenses were later dismissed, but Bon Jovi told Los Angeles' Fox 11 (via People) that the whole ordeal was a "tragedy" as well as "something that I had to face too."

Band issues led to dark times for Jon Bon Jovi

In the 2010s, Bon Jovi faced multiple troubles. In 2013, guitarist Richie Sambora abruptly quit the band. "I went out for the first leg of the tour," Sambora told The Today Show Australia (via The Hollywood Reporter), adding, "I just started spending time with my kid between legs, and my spirit wouldn't pull myself out the door. I just needed to be home." The departure blindsided Jon Bon Jovi. "Everything was great, and we were just coming off a break, but he never came to work again," Bon Jovi told The Mirror. "It was a shock."

A couple of years later, Bon Jovi released "Burning Bridges," its final album on Mercury Records, the band's label since forever. That title was a not-so-thinly veiled announcement that Bon Jovi was frustrated, bitter, and just plain done with Mercury, and the title track "explains exactly what happened," as Jon Bon Jovi told Billboard. It includes the lyrics, "After 30 years of loyalty, they let you dig the grave / Now maybe you can learn to sing or strum along / Well, I'll give you half the publishing / You're why I wrote this song."

Losing Sambora and leaving Mercury left Jon Bon Jovi in a low place that lasted years. "There was a lot of darkness really," he told The Mirror. "I was going through a difficult period and it felt like the weight of the world was on my shoulders."

Alec John Such left the band

Alec John Such was among the collective of New Jersey-based musicians that would comprise the early lineup of Bon Jovi, playing bass for the group on its first five albums in the 1980s and early 1990s, according to Rolling Stone. After contributing to the group's 1992 record "Keep the Faith," Such officially parted ways with Bon Jovi in 1994. 

A founding member of Bon Jovi, Such had previously played in the band Message with guitarist Richie Sambora, according to Vulture, and was childhood friends with drummer Tico Torres. Such was 31 when he took the gig in Bon Jovi in 1982, as much as 10 years older than his bandmates, and by the time he reached his mid-40s, he'd tired of being part of a globetrotting rock group. "When I was 43, I started to get burned out," he told the Asbury Park Press (via Variety). "It felt like work, and I didn't want to work." Such's departure was amicable, and he was included in both the induction and speeches when Bon Jovi was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2018.

On June 5, 2022, the Bon Jovi official Twitter account released a statement announcing the musician's death. "We are heartbroken to hear the news of the passing of our dear friend Alec John Such," it read. "Alex was always wild and full of life." No cause of death was immediately provided; Such was 70 years old.