20 Things You Might Not Know About Bon Jovi's Slippery When Wet
By Dave Basner
August 18, 2018
On August 18th, 1986, Bon Jovi released their third album, Slippery When Wet. The record would go on to become their best-selling to date and to celebrate its 31st anniversary, here are 20 things you might not know about it:
2. The band’s record company brought in renowned songwriter Desmond Child to help the band out. Along with Jon and Richie, Desmond penned hits like “You Give Love a Bad Name” and “Livin’ on a Prayer” in the basement of Richie’s mom’s house in New Jersey.
3. When they had 30 songs written, the band auditioned them for teens in New York and New Jersey, deciding which tracks to include on the effort based on the kids’ reactions.
4. Jon selected producer Bruce Fairbairn for Slippery When Wet because the singer loved the sound quality of heavy metal band Black ‘N Blue’s 1985 album Without Love, which Bruce produced.
5. Before it was called Slippery When Wet, the band considered the title Wanted Dead or Alive, and even had a cover made up with the group dressed as cowboys. It was later used for the single release for that song.
6. The group chose the name Slippery When Wet following a visit to a strip club in Vancouver.
7. The cover art is a wet black garbage bag with the title traced in the water. It was a last minute decision. The original cover was a busty woman in a yellow shirt featuring the album title. While the official reason for the switch is unknown, some think it was because the label feared stores would refuse to carry it, deeming the cover sexist, and others have said Jon scrapped the cover when he saw the record company put a bright pink border around it.
8. Slippery When Wet spawned three top ten singles, “Wanted Dead or Alive,” “You Give Love a Bad Name” and “Livin’ on a Prayer,” with the latter two topping the chart. The record is the first rock album with three hits in the top ten.
9. “You Give Love a Bad Name” became the band’s first song to go to number one.
10. “You Give Love a Bad Name” was originally written for “Total Eclipse of the Heart” singer Bonnie Tyler as the song “If You Were a Woman (And I Was a Man),” which had different lyrics. Desmond was unhappy with how it performed so he re-wrote it with Jon and Richie.
11. Jon was hesitant to include “Livin’ on a Prayer” on the effort because he didn’t think it was a good enough song. Richie was sure it would be a hit. They compromised and re-recorded the track, which, of course, went on to be huge.
12. The popular version of “Livin’ on a Prayer” ends with a fade, but the studio version is 43 seconds longer. It has the guys revisiting the intro riff and ends with a talk box solo.
13. Jon said he was inspired to write the lyrics for “Livin’ on a Prayer” by the trickle-down economics of the Reagan era.
14. Jon was inspired to right “Wanted Dead or Alive” after listening to Bob Seger’s “Turn the Page.”
15. “Wanted Dead or Alive” was written when Jon couldn’t sleep on his tour bus. During that time, he realized that the rock star lifestyle is a lot like an outlaw’s with riding into towns and having girls and booze before the sun comes up.
16. “Edge of a Broken Heart,” which wound up on the soundtrack to the 1987 film Disorderlies, was written during the sessions for Slippery When Wet, but not included on the album. Jon later said of the tune, “It was absolutely appropriate for the Slippery record – coulda, shoulda, woulda been on Slippery had cooler minds prevailed.”
17. “Never Say Goodbye” wasn’t eligible for the Billboard Hot 100 chart because it was never released as a commercially available single. It definitely would’ve charted though and still made it to number 28 on the Hot 100 Airplay chart.
18. The album became Bon Jovi’s first record to top the charts. It spent eight weeks at number one and 38 weeks in the top five on the Billboard 200.
19. Slippery When Wet was the best-selling album of 1987.
20. The album has gone platinum 12-times over, meaning it’s sold more than 12-million copies. It’s one of the best-selling albums of all time in America.
Photo Credit: Getty