Tommy and Gina

“This is for the ones who stood their ground. /For Tommy and Gina who never backed down”. 

this lyrics from “It’s My Life”, song from Bon Jovi’s Crush in 2000, the last Bon Jovi song that I, FridayIamInRock love.

For Those who don’t know Bon Jovi it may be wondering who Tommy and Gina are. But if you are growing up with Bon Jovi in the ’80s, you’re knew who Tommy and Gina are, you could say Bon Jovi was made famous because of Tommy and Gina.

Tommy and Gina were the main fictional characters in the 1986 song “Livin’ on a Prayer” from the album Slippery When Wet, which transformed a stale hard rock band into pop metal superstars and millions of bands imitated them.

Slippery When Wet

Slippery When Wet was a huge success, selling 12 million copies in the US alone. The album contained several hits including “You Give Love a Bad Name,” “Wanted Dead or Alive,” “Never Say Goodbye,” and “Livin’ on a Prayer.”

Let me tell you that the success of this album lies in its ability to meld the raw intensity of heavy metal with the irresistible catchiness of pop melodies. It’s a combination that’s sure to make your heart race and your head spin, leaving you breathless and wanting more.

The early days of Bon Jovi were fuelled by the energy and bravado of men who were unafraid to strut their stuff and let their egos run wild. And while some may have dismissed it as mere arrogance, the truth is that it was this same unbridled confidence that allowed them to tap into the darker, more primal aspects of human nature and create music that truly rocked the world.

Bon Jovi 1986

Now, you may be thinking that glam metal was all about the eye makeup and colourful clothing, and to a certain extent, you’d be right. But let’s not forget that even bands like Bon Jovi, who may have started out on the simple hard rock path fill with glam metal vibe, quickly veered towards a heavier metal sound. Take their first album, for example – it was chock-full of heavy riffs and thunderous drumbeats that left no doubt as to their musical prowess.

So, combines the best of both worlds – the raw power of heavy metal and the infectious melodies of pop – then look no further. This is the one that’s sure to leave you humming its tunes for days on end, with a heart full of passion and a head full of metal.

on Bon Jovi, in my opinion, is the embodiment of rock and roll – a true believer of classic rock. He has an uncanny ability to weave tales of love and loss, of triumph and tragedy, that resonate with listeners of his ages.  

But as we all know, timing is everything in the music industry. And unfortunately, it was during the release of their first album that the heavy metal and hard rock genres were at their rising, causing many bands – including Bon Jovi – to jump on the bandwagon and try to follow the trend.

It’s true that the band’s first 2 albums were not as successful as they had hoped, failing to live up to the expectations of their record label, Mercury. But I believe that their true talent and potential lay in their ability to tell stories through their music – stories that spoke to the hearts and souls of their fans.

And let’s not forget that Bon Jovi’s musical influences – Bob Dylan, Bruce Springsteen, and the like – were anything but heavy metal or hard rock. It was their ability to blend these influences with their own unique sound that ultimately set them apart from their peers and made them the beloved rock icons they are today.

So let us not judge them solely on their early albums, but instead appreciate the journey they took to get where they are today. For it is through trial and error, through experimentation and exploration, that true artists find their voice and their place in the world of music.

It’s no secret that Bon Jovi’s first two albums were enough to garner them some exposure, with their 1985 release selling hundreds of thousands of copies. However, according to Mercury, their record label, the band had the potential for so much more. With a good-looking lead singer and a solid backup band, the expectation was that with the right commercial backing, they should have been even more successful.

Bon Jovi Slippery when Wet - Tommy and Gina

When the expected success didn’t materialize, a meeting was called to discuss what went wrong. The consensus was that Bon Jovi had not yet had enough hits to break into the pop market, where the real money was to be made. But to do so, they would need to alter their sound and work with professional songwriters to “polish” their songs into a more pop-friendly format.

To some, this may seem like a betrayal of the band’s artistic integrity – like the espresso shot may sell the quality of the coffee beans. But if adding milk, add a little more caramel topping with milk foam. May be more popular with people than the quality of concentrated coffee alone.  and in the cutthroat world of the music industry, sometimes compromise is necessary to achieve success.

In the quest for pop success, Bon Jovi turned to Desmond Child, a rising star in the music industry who had made a name for himself co-writing KISS’s hit song “I Was Made for Lovin’ You” and several tracks on their successful comeback album in the 80s.

It was KISS guitarist and vocalist Paul Stanley who gave Bon Jovi members Desmond’s phone number, and it turned out to be a fortuitous connection. The resulting collaboration yielded some of the band’s biggest hits, including “Livin’ on a Prayer” and “You Give Love a Bad Name.”

Desmond’s song writing prowess allowed Bon Jovi to retain their rock energy while adding a pop sensibility that made their music more accessible to a wider audience. Their songs had a certain charm that appealed to both boys and girls, with catchy melodies and lyrics that spoke to the heart of the youth generation.

And while some may argue that turning to professional songwriters was a betrayal of the band’s artistic integrity, I believe that true artists are able to adapt and evolve while staying true to their core values and beliefs.

In the end, the success of Bon Jovi is a testament to their talent, hard work, and dedication to their craft. They may have faced pressure to conform to the norms of the pop market, but they ultimately stayed true to themselves and their unique sound, leaving an indelible mark on the world of hair metal.

Livin’ on a Prayer

The story of how Bon Jovi’s hit song “Livin’ on a Prayer” came to be is a fascinating one indeed. Initially, the band’s lead singer, Jon Bon Jovi, wrote a version of the song that was quite different from what we know and love today. In fact, he disliked the original version so much but still included a demo of it on discs in the 100,000,000 Bon Jovi Fans Can’t Be Wrong box set.

Thankfully, the band’s guitarist, Richie Sambora, saw something in the song that Jon did not. He recognized the potential of the melody and the storyline, and he believed that it could be reworked into something truly special.

Enter Desmond Child, the renowned songwriter responsible for many top 10 hits. With his magic touch, he helped to polish and refine the song, bringing Tommy and Gina’s story to life in a way that was relatable to people from all walks of life. The resulting song had a pop feel that made it easy to listen to, yet it retained the raw energy and passion of Bon Jovi’s rock roots.

It’s a testament to the power of collaboration and the importance of keeping an open mind. Had Richie not heard something special in Jon’s original demo, or had the band not been willing to work with Desmond Child, “Livin’ on a Prayer” may never have been the massive hit that it became.

Let me regale you with the tale of Bon Jovi’s “Livin’ on a Prayer,” a song that has captured the hearts and souls of millions. It begins with a storyteller’s voice, proclaiming, “Once upon a time… not so long ago…”

Tommy used to work on the docks

Union’s been on strike, he’s down on his luck

It’s tough

So tough

Gina works the diner all day

Workin’ for her man, she brings home her pay

For love

Mm, for love


The lyrics paint a vivid picture of a hard-working couple struggling to make ends meet. Tommy, a low-level port worker, loses his job due to union protests, leaving him and his girlfriend, Gina, a hardworking waitress, provides for her man, bringing home her pay for love, for love.

Together, they face the harsh realities of life, forced to pawn their guitars and rely on each other’s strength to make it through each day. Despite the obstacles, they refuse to give up on their dreams. “We’re halfway there,” they say, holding hands and facing the challenges ahead.

But the truth is bitter, for they are held back by the stubbornness of their family. Gina knows they must make the most of what they have, regardless of their circumstances. It’s a story of determination and love, a tale of the human spirit that never gives up.

As I listen to this song now, it strikes me as a strange kind of irony. Back in my teenage years, when it was first released, it felt like a rallying cry to keep fighting, to hold onto hope and togetherness in the face of adversity. 

But now, in my older age, the repeated phrase “for love” carries a sense of resignation and dissatisfaction with the status quo. It’s as if we must endure the struggles of life by clinging to the concept of love, even if it doesn’t quite fill the emptiness inside us.

Yes, life can be harsh and unforgiving, especially for those without wealth and power in today’s society. Yet there is still that spark of hope in the hearts of the young, that sense of determination to work hard and chase our dreams together.

“Livin’ on a prayer” reached number one on the Billboard Hot 100 chart on 14 March 1987, and stayed at number one for four weeks.

To this day, Tommy and Gina’s story has been a topic of much debate and speculation over the years. 

Some believe that it was inspired by Jon Bon Jovi’s own personal experiences, one of his friend once dreamed of becoming a professional baseball player but gave up that dream when he learned that his girlfriend was pregnant. He chose to sacrifice his dreams and work in a factory to provide for his family. 

Others believe that the characters of Tommy and Gina are based on people that the band members knew in real life. Regardless of the origins of the story, the enduring message of “Livin’ on a Prayer” is one of resilience and perseverance in the face of adversity. It’s a reminder that even in the toughest of times, love and hope can help us find the strength to keep going.

Desmond Child, had another stories to tell, recalls a time when success was not yet his constant companion. He and his girlfriend, Maria Vidal, toiled away as they navigated the streets of New York City, with Desmond eking out a living as a taxi driver. Meanwhile, Maria had aspirations of her own – she yearned to be a singer and songwriter. but in the meantime, she made ends meet as a waitress at a quaint little eatery called “Once Upon A Stove.” 

Her colleagues there affectionately referred to her as “Gina” due to her striking resemblance to the legendary Italian actress and photographer, Gina Lollobrigida. The road to success is paved with humble beginnings, and Desmond Child’s story is a testament to that.

In the original lyrics, the male characters were set to be named Johnny, which would have reflected the real names of both Desmond and Jon Bon Jovi. However, Jon had a different idea in mind and requested a change in the name. “My name is Jon, why are we singing about Johnny? Let’s switch it up to Tommy,” he proposed. And so the name was changed, giving the character a new identity that would resonate with the audience in a different way.

“’Livin’ On a Prayer”, what a song. It’s a curious amalgamation of hard rock and metal, with some mighty riffs and musical sections that are sure to get your blood pumping. And let’s not forget about those tantalizing talk boxes that give it that extra punch.

But what’s really fascinating is its story, a tale of romance that echoes the likes of Bob Dylan or Bruce Springsteen. It’s a story that resonates with the working class, capturing the hearts of young folks from their early working years all the way to adolescence. It’s no wonder that it found such a devoted following among Bon Jovi fans at the time.”

Tommy and Gina in Bon Jovi’s Songs

In addition to this song, Tommy and Gina appear on several Bon Jovi songs. Bon Jovi later drew on Tommy and Gina again in “99 In the Shade” from the album New Jersey (1988).

“Somebody tell me even Tommy’s coming down tonight if Gina says it alright”.

and yes. Tommy and Gina was mentioned again in “It’s My Life,” another Bon Jovi hit over the next decade.

This is for the ones who stood their ground

For Tommy and Gina who never backed down

“It’s My Life” is a modern rock and roll masterpiece that ignites the soul. The use of riffs and talk boxes in the song is not just a display of technical prowess but a sublime fusion of sound and emotion. From the very first listen, it evokes memories of the iconic “Livin’ on a Prayer,” a Bon Jovi’s Biggest Hit Song.

The rhythm and story of the song are exquisitely intertwined, taking the listener on a journey of self-discovery and empowerment. It is a song that resonates with Bon Jovi’s fans worldwide, a universal anthem of freedom and defiance.But amidst all this musical glory, let us not forget the heart of the song. The story of Tommy and Gina, two working-class characters that still linger in our hearts, inspires us to live our lives on our own terms. It is a tale of grit and determination, a reminder that we are the masters of our fate and the captains of our souls.

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