FRESNO, Calif. — Who knew way back in the, ahem, Dark Ages when women with teased hair and guys with mullets were thrilling to the beat of Livin on a Prayer that more than 25 years later the rock group Bon Jovi would still be filling arenas around the world?
To be fair, probably no one. Not even the band members.
Thinking in terms of decades isnt exactly on the agenda of hot-to-trot rockers.
The hardest thing in the world when youre young is to get a record deal, says keyboardist David Bryan. Thats all youre thinking about. Then the hardest thing is to make a No. 1 record. And then you realize the hardest thing in the world is to stay No. 1.
Part of the secret to Bon Jovis longevity, Bryan says, is to keep pounding out albums that speak to fans.
We always give the obvious classics that people want to hear, he says. But were a band that thrives on new material as well as old. For us, its not just resting on yesterday.
The bands Because We Can tour kicked off in February. By tours end, the band will have performed throughout the Americas, Europe, the Far East, Africa and Australia. The shows set has 90 high-speed moving elements and is described as a kinetic sculpture of light and video.
For Bryan, the financial security of being in one of the worlds most successful rock bands has allowed him to pursue a significant side career in Broadway musicals. He wrote the music and lyrics for the Tony Award-winning Memphis.
The Juilliard-trained Bryan spoke from Vancouver, where the tours fall leg started. He only had a few minutes on the phone to discuss Bon Jovis tour. But he hit some high points, including:
• Jon Bon Jovi comes up with the set list, but its always just a suggestion. At any time, Bryan says, the lead singer can throw in a substitution. The group has about 80 songs, old and new, that its prepared to sing. Thats about all my brain can handle.
• One reason for Bon Jovis enduring success is that its appealing to another generation, Bryan says. Thats the wonderful part about it. When you look out at a show, you see a lot of young fans.
• Personnel updates: The bands drummer, Tico Torres, who in September had an emergency appendectomy while on tour in Mexico City (followed a week later by gall bladder surgery), rejoined the tour Oct. 8 in Fresno.
As for the bands celebrated lead guitarist, Richie Sambora, who has not performed with the group since spring his absence has been the subject of a large number of rumors over the summer: That situation remains unchanged, Bryan says drily.
Still, Bryan says fans can expect a true Bon Jovi experience.