In 1983, Bon Jovi took the initiative to form the eponymous band in New Jersey, actively contributing to the definition of the 1980s’ guitar-heavy rock scene. MusiCares, the Recording Academy’s charitable arm dedicated to supporting musicians with health care and other needs, actively named the 61-year-old as this year’s Person of the Year.
“Joining Bon Jovi onstage in downtown Los Angeles for ‘Who Says You Can’t Go Home?’ was Springsteen, also from New Jersey. Both actively played guitar and sang during the performance. Meanwhile, in the audience, former Beatles member Paul McCartney stood, clapping his hands above his head.
On Wednesday, Adele Springsteen, Bruce Springsteen’s mother, passed away at the age of 98. Bon Jovi expressed that he would have understood if Springsteen, a friend and mentor in his eyes, had decided to cancel his appearance.”
“But he wanted to be here tonight for MusiCares, and he wanted to be here tonight for me, and I’m forever grateful,” he said.
Bon Jovi also discussed the importance of music in his life. “Every time I strum my guitar, I’m reminded that I have a best friend for life. That instrument will never let you down,” he said.
During the three-hour tribute, fellow ’80s rocker Sammy Hagar sang “You Give Love a Bad Name,” folk-rock singer Melissa Etheridge sang “Blaze of Glory,” and singer-songwriter Jason Isbell performed “Wanted Dead or Alive.”
Country singer Jelly Roll and the husband-and-wife duo The War and Treaty, who are vying for the best new artist award at Sunday’s Grammys, were among the other performers.
Applauding the performances and chuckling at host Jim Gaffigan’s jabs about his big hair and 1980s-style clothing, Bon Jovi enjoyed the evening. Gaffigan humorously remarked that Bon Jovi and his band resembled “a gang of aerobics instructors” during that era.
The night concluded with the all-star lineup joining Bon Jovi on stage for the rock anthem “Livin’ On a Prayer.”
MusiCares acknowledged Bon Jovi for both his musical achievements and philanthropic work. The musician, who founded the Jon Bon Jovi Soul Foundation to combat hunger, poverty, and homelessness, received the honor.
Joni Mitchell, Dolly Parton, Tony Bennett, Billy Joel, and Fleetwood Mac have all been honored at MusiCares in the past.
“It’s humbling,” Bon Jovi told Reuters before Friday’s event. “I’m touched to be even mentioned in that group of people who have received this before.”
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