As a kid in the Bon Jovi heyday, my memory was that the band was considered… kind of nerdy, compared to some of what was out there. Anyone who wanted edge cred loudly professed their love for Motley Crue or Def Leppard or Whitesnake — and that love was real, obviously; it just also felt more adult and risky and risqué to be worshipping the Crue or “Pour Some Sugar On Me” or Tawny Kitaen on the hood of a car. Bon Jovi was really more pop. So pledging allegiance to them felt more like a secret passion in my class — you listened to Bon Jovi in your room, but the Crue on your Walkman on the bus to school — even though everyone clearly knew that yes, those songs are complete bops. Eventually we all grew up and admitted we’d loved them all along, and “Livin’ On a Prayer” is the easiest way to get a group of reluctant and/or insufficiently lubricated forty-somethings at a wedding onto the dance floor. And most importantly, they’re still kicking.
These pictures were from this day in 1985, though, and you can sort of see why maybe they were the designer-imposter version of hair metal. They’re trying, but in truth, they’re all of the hair and none of the metal. In truth, I do love them for it.