Bon Jovi Go Country: 5 Times the New Jersey Boys Showed Nashville Some Love
In modern times, no rock band has enjoyed as much country success as Bon Jovi. More specifically, the New Jersey group were the first rockers to top the country charts -- for two weeks, in fact -- in May 2006, with a Jennifer Nettles duet, "Who Says You Can't Go Home."
This crossover success is perhaps not surprising: Although Bon Jovi became wildly popular in the 1980s thanks to pop-metal songs such as "Livin' on a Prayer" and "You Give Love a Bad Name," frontman Jon Bon Jovi has always seen parallels between his band's musical style and country: "I really do believe that a lot of the young country artists of this generation grew up probably closer to my music than they did to Patsy Cline and to Woody Guthrie and, you know, the originators of what was country," he told CNN in 2006.
That's certainly the case with Dierks Bentley: Bon Jovi were his first concert. But the band's music, which often includes prominent acoustic guitar, also lends itself to country covers. Cassadee Pope covered the power ballad "Bed of Roses" in 2015, while Luke Bryan ended CMA Fest 2019 with a rousing cover of "Livin' on a Prayer."
Keep reading for five times Bon Jovi went country.
Chris LeDoux Puts Bon Jovi on the Country Chart
In 1990, Jon Bon Jovi released a solo album, Blaze of Glory, that had distinctive country flair -- in no small part because the songs were inspired and meant for the Western film Young Guns II. Although the album's title track topped the pop charts, Bon Jovi didn't make his Hot Country Singles and Tracks chart debut as a solo artist until 1998: That year, Chris LeDoux covered another Blaze of Glory song, "Bang a Drum," for his One Road Man album and enlisted Bon Jovi on vocals. It peaked at No. 68 on the country chart.
Sugarland and Bon Jovi Do 'Crossroads'
In September of 2005, Bon Jovi and Sugarland teamed up for an episode of CMT Crossroads. In addition to performing a trio of songs from Sugarland's 2004 debut album, Twice the Speed of Life ("Something More," "Baby Girl," "Just Might (Make Me Believe)"), the two bands also collaborated on several Bon Jovi hits, including (of course) "Livin' on a Prayer." In a preview of things to come, the groups also performed "Who Says You Can't Go Home," which would soon be a massive country hit.
Bon Jovi and Jennifer Nettles Hit No. 1
In May of 2006, Bon Jovi became the first rock band to top the country chart when a country version of their song "Who Says You Can't Go Home," featuring Sugarland's Jennifer Nettles, spent two weeks at No. 1.
"When Richie [Sambora] and I wrote it, we thought it would be a great idea if we could get on country radio, but knew that the format was close to a rock band so we sought out the help of a country artist," Bon Jovi told CNN that year. The band's record company wanted the group to use a new artist, which Bon Jovi were open to -- with a few caveats: "I have to like her voice. I have to like the songs that are on her forthcoming record. And then I have to believe that she delivers our lyric."
Nettles certainly fit the bill, as the song won a Grammy for Best Country Collaboration With Vocals in 2007 and won Best Collaborative Video at the 2006 CMT Music Awards.
Bon Jovi Take the 'Lost Highway'
Buoyed by the success of "Who Says You Can't Go Home," Bon Jovi decided to go country on their 2007 album Lost Highway. The band enlisted Dann Huff as co-producer; co-wrote songs with country hitmakers such as Hillary Lindsey and Brett James; and teamed up with LeAnn Rimes and Big & Rich for duets. The result is an album that spawned two charting country songs -- "(You Want to) Make a Memory" peaked at No. 35, and the Rimes duet, "Till We Ain't Strangers Anymore," reached No. 47 -- and a No. 1 Billboard Top 200 debut.
Bon Jovi Sing With LeAnn Rimes
The third single from Lost Highway was "Till We Ain't Strangers Anymore," which features Rimes. The lovelorn power ballad shows off the strengths of each artist and took home a CMT Music Award for Collaborative Video of the Year in 2008. "Till We Ain't Strangers Anymore" also received a nod for Vocal Event of the Year at the Academy of Country Music Awards.