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Jon Bon Jovi, 62, on New Documentary: ‘It’s Each of Our Individual Truths’

New Hulu series addresses Bon Jovi’s voice issues and Richie Sambora’s departure

spinner image Jon Bon Jovi performing at the Mohegan Sun in Uncasville, Connecticut
David Bergman/Hulu

“Everything is exposed.” That’s the word from Jon Bon Jovi, 62, about a new four-part documentary on Hulu that debuted April 26.

And by “exposed,” he really means everything — his personal struggles, the band’s highs and lows, his split with songwriting and singing partner Richie Sambora.

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This show about the feel-good pop-rock band Bon Jovi has an unexpectedly elegiac title: Thank You, Goodnight: The Bon Jovi Story. Isn’t that what bands say (“Thank you, Cleveland — and good night!”) when they are done performing? Turns out that as well as tracing Bon Jovi’s rise to worldwide multiplatinum fame from the gritty bar scene of the New Jersey Shore, the documentary also tells the recent tale of how bandleader and founder Jon Bon Jovi faced potentially career-ending trouble with his singing voice.

It’s hard to say which of the two stories is more compelling, thanks partly to the thoroughness of director and executive producer Gotham Chopra, who seemed determined not only to dig up every significant photo and film clip dating back to Bon Jovi’s birth in 1962 but also to speak to everyone of significance in his rise to stardom, including current bandmates; his wife, Dorothea; a notorious ex-manager; friends; and even former lead guitarist Sambora, who left the group abruptly in 2013 during the first leg of a lengthy world tour.

Sambora, who has spoken a few times about his mysterious departure, appears as a wonderful teaser at the end of the first episode, grinning into the camera and asking mischievously, “Are we telling the truth or are we gonna lie — what are we gonna do?”

Like everyone else in the documentary, he strives for the truth, although his is a complex one that’s equal parts addiction struggles and ego clashes with songwriting partner and close friend Bon Jovi.

spinner image Jon Bon Jovi raises his guitar in the air during his performance at American Airlines Center in Dallas
Jon Bon Jovi performing at American Airlines Center in Dallas.
David Bergman/Hulu

Detailing the split was, Bon Jovi says, in keeping with the film’s chief aim: keeping it real, which was achieved by including the voices of as many of the relevant people as possible. “It’s not my truth,” he says. “It’s each of our individual truths.”

Indeed, Good Night doesn’t shy away from Bon Jovi’s vocal troubles, the result of natural aging of the vocal tissues. This culminates in a tour in 2022 when he is forced to confront how weak his voice has become. He undergoes vocal surgery soon after. The star is shown recording a song eight months later, and he is still so raspy that he says downheartedly, “I don’t even sound like me.” (Spoiler: With continued improvement, Bon Jovi was able to record a new album, Forever, to be released on June 7.)

Many is the singer who might have been content to leave such struggles to viewers’ imaginations. Not Bon Jovi. “Telling a truth sells itself,” he told me when I asked about this tough scene. “And the truth is easier than a series of lies. Because how long can the liar remember the lies? So tell the truth, sell your truth, and if anyone is buying, good for you.”

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This goes for those archival photos and film clips as well, many of which are of Bon Jovi in the mid-1980s, sporting silk scarves and sometimes cowboy chaps — a look very different from his current silver fox elegance. He laughs, saying, “There was a period where I was repulsed by some of those pictures. Now I can look back on them and say, ‘Yep. Guilty as charged.’ Those were my baby pictures. Chances are, if you were alive at the time, you looked the same. Fortunately, I’m here to tell the tale.”

Jon Bon Jovi is AARP the Magazine’s next cover star. Check back at the end of May for a full interview.

Additional reporting by Caitlin K. Rossmann

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