His paternal grandfather, Louis Bongiovi, was of Italian (Sicilian) descent, and his paternal grandmother, Elizabeth M. Benkovsky, was of Slovak ancestry. His maternal grandfather, Michael R. Sharkey, was of Polish descent, while his maternal grandmother, Martha W. Ludwig, was from a Swiss-German family.
Musician, actor. Born John Francis Bongiovi Jr. on March 2, 1962 in Perth Amboy, New Jersey. Jon was raised by his parents, Carol and John Bongiovi, a hairdresser. By his early teens, he was hanging out at local clubs, convinced that one day he would be a rock star.
Idolizing local rising stars such as Bruce Springsteen and the Asbury Jukes, Jon was playing in clubs by the time he was 16. He met keyboardist David Bryan in high school, and the two formed a ten-piece rhythm and blues band called Atlantic City Expressway. Jon also performed with bands called The Rest, The Lechers and John Bongiovi and the Wild Ones.
In 1980, Jon recorded his first single, Runaway, at his cousin's studio, with back-up by studio musicians. A local radio station included the song on a compilation tape, and it began to get frequent airplay. The success of Runaway got Jon noticed, and he realized that he'd need more than session players if he wanted to capitalize on his success.
Jon gave David a call, who in turn tapped Alec John Such, Tico Torres and guitarist Richie Samborra. During a show in New York in 1983, the band caught the attention of record exececutive Derek Shulman, who signed them to PolyGram. It was Shulman who anglicized John Bongiovi's name to Bon Jovi.