Bon Jovi, helmed by East Hampton’s Jon Bon Jovi, was inducted into the Cleveland Rock & Roll Hall of Fame by fellow South Forker Howard Stern last weekend. The group, including former members Richie Sambora and Alec John Such, played for an hour during the ceremony. In a touching 20-minute speech Bon Jovi said, “In the end, it’s all about time. It took a lot of people to get us here tonight.”
He went on to tell the story, of the band’s “big break” and the people responsible for it, John Lassman and Chip Hobart, who both worked at the WAPP radio station. In 1983, “after sending the [‘Runaway’] cassette to every record label and manager [Bon Jovi] could think of,” he took it to WAPP, a relatively new station in New York City that hadn’t even hired a receptionist yet. Bon Jovi continued, “I told them about the songs on the cassette and the frustration of not getting any label to listen to it. Chip did listen to it, and he told me he thought it should be included on their ‘Homegrown’ record of local original music.”
In the pressroom, when Bon Jovi noticed Lassman and Hobart standing in the crowd, he embraced them, thanking them once again for their support. Lassman told Variety, “That was very humbling. I’m pretty jaded at this point, but that was really something when he threw our names out after all these years. To do it for the Hall of Fame was pretty insane.”
Stern acted as the comedy relief during the heartwarming ceremony, singing his rendition of Bon Jovi’s “Wanted Dead or Alive” and comparing Bon Jovi’s massive album sales to the number of Bubonic Plague deaths. He then joked about how long it took for the band to be inducted, saying, “In a sign of the zombie apocalypse, Jann Wenner finally let Bon Jovi into the Hall of Fame. It took years of pondering to decide that this glorious band that sold 130 million albums [should get] in.”
Bon Jovi admitted to Billboard that he’s glad the band wasn’t inducted nine years ago, when they were first eligible, because now he can truly appreciate the honor and the chance to reunite with his former band mates. At an exclusive after party in the Cleveland Flats, Bon Jovi celebrated not only their new Hall of Fame status, but also the news that New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy officially declared April 14 to be Bon Jovi Day to mark the New Jersey band’s incredible accomplishments and induction.
The other artists inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame this year include The Cars, Dire Straits, The Moody Blues, Sister Rosetta Tharpe and Nina Simone. Fans can see the entire induction ceremony on HBO May 5.