Right out of the gate, New Jersey’s Bon Jovi were expected to be massive. Not just “big” but they were seen as the “Next Big Thing” from the moment “Runaway” hit radio airwaves across North America.
And it didn’t happen.
Then 1985 arrived and Jon and company sat back, took a look at the musical landscape and made some changes. Jon Bon Jovi had heard Black N’ Blue’s sophomore album, ‘Without Love’ and decided that that album’s producer, Bruce Fairbairn, needed to be onboard for the next Bon Jovi release. US label, Mercury Records brought in pop music hitmaker Desmond Child to help streamline the band’s sound and deliver a few legitimate hit singles in the process.
What happened next is what “rock star dreams” are made of.
Recording at Fairbairn’s Little Mountain Sound Studio in Vancouver, BC Canada, the band spent from January to July 1986 locked in the studio working diligently on Slippery When Wet,with the bulk of the album being written by Jon Bon Jovi and guitarist, Richie Sambora with Desmond Child contributing to the songs “You Give Love a Bad Name,” “Livin’ on a Prayer,” “I’d Die for You” and “Without Love.”
First single, “You Give Love a Bad Name” exploded out of the box, becoming Bon Jovi’s first number one single. Initially written for Bonnie Tyler under the title “If You Were a Woman (And I Was a Man)” with different lyrics. Dissatisfied with its success in the US and UK, Desmond Child re-wrote the song with Jon Bon Jovi and Richie Sambora. Although Sambora knew that “Livin’ on a Prayer” was a surefire hit, Jon didn’t share his viewpoint and argued to keep the future number 1 single off the record, instead pushing for the track, “Edge of a Broken Heart” to be included (it was left off). The single would go on to be the song that the general public most associate with the band to this day. The one-two punch of the two songs gave Bon Jovi the distinction of being the first hard rock band to ever have two consecutive chart topping singles. The album’s other two singles, “Wanted Dead or Alive” and “Never Say Goodbye” topped out at #7 and #28 (Hot Airplay Charts, rather than Billboard Singles Chart) respectively. “Never Say Goodbye” wasn’t eligible for the Billboard Hot 100 Singles Chart as it was only released to radio and not as a physical single.
Upon Slippery When Wet‘s release it rocketed to the top of the Billboard charts, where it remained for eight weeks and would become the top selling album of the following year. It spent over half a year in the Top 5 and to date it has sold a staggering twelve million plus copies in the US (28 million worldwide), making it one of the 100 best selling albums ever released (48th best selling album in the US).
The album went through various name changes during its inception including ‘Wanted Dead Or Alive’ with Slippery When Wet being the final title conceived. According to Jon, the band decided on that title after visiting The Number 5 Orange Strip club in Vancouver.
The original album artwork featured a woman in a wet yellow T-shirt with the album title on the front of the shirt. However, this was swapped for the wet plastic bag cover just prior to release amidst fears that stores would refuse to carry the album with that coverart.
The album was ranked 44th in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame’s list of the Definitive 200 albums of all time.
BON JOVI – “YOU GIVE LOVE A BAD NAME”
BON JOVI – “LIVIN’ ON A PRAYER”
BON JOVI – WANTED DEAD OR ALIVE
BON JOVI – “NEVER SAY GOODBYE”
BON JOVI – “WILD IN THE STREETS”