Musician and songwriter Jon Bon Jovi is now Dr. Bon Jovi, thanks to a degree from The University of Pennsylvania, which awarded the New Jersey rocker an honorary doctorate in music.
The Asbury Park Press reported that the musician received his doctorate during Penn’s 263rd Commencement on Monday, May 20, at Franklin Field in Philadelphia.
He was awarded the honor for his contributions to the world of music, as well as his humanitarian efforts for his work in the area, including his Jon Bon Jovi Soul Homes in Philadelphia. The rock star worked alongside Project HOME in 2014, where they announced the JBJ Soul Homes, a four-story mixed-use development that included retail units, offices, and 55 apartment units for formerly homeless and low-income people.
The graduating class came together and honored Bon Jovi by singing to him his iconic 1986 tune, “Livin’ on a Prayer.”
This is Bon Jovi’s third doctorate. He received a Doctorate of Humanities from Monmouth University in New Jersey in 2001, per the Asbury Park Press. He also received a doctorate from Rutgers University in Camden, New Jersey, in 2015. According to Business Insider, his doctorate from Rutgers was for his leadership in civic justice and equality.
As a teen, the singer was more interested in focusing on a career in music than sitting behind a desk. He has admitted in the past that he was not interested in school when he was a teenager, as he wanted to play rock and roll. Bon Jovi reflected that while he was not proud that he skipped classes because he had to play late in bars and found it difficult to wake up the next morning for class, he realized he needed to earn his high school diploma.
He graduated Sayreville War Memorial High School in 1980 but ditched higher education in favor of sweeping floors at his cousin Tony Bongiovi’s recording studio, The Power Station, in New York City. This is where he met some of the most famous rockers in the world who were there recording their latest tracks, including The Rolling Stones.
Those humble beginnings set him on the road to superstardom in 1983. He made a record with studio musicians during his off-hours at the Power Station, titled “Runaway,” and shopped it around at radio stations, hoping they would play it. It was now-defunct New York radio station WAPP that took the bait and played the track on the air.
The song took off and with no band at the time, Bon Jovi quickly assembled a group of musicians including school pal David Bryan, drummer Tico Torres, guitarist Richie Sambora, and bassist Alec John Such. Together, they would eventually sell over 130 million albums worldwide.
As a solo artist, Jon Bon Jovi has won a Golden Globe in 1991 in the category of Best Original Song in a Motion Picture for “Blaze of Glory,” the lead song for the soundtrack of the film Young Guns II. He was also nominated in 2013 for the song “Not Running Anymore” from the film Stand Up Guys.
He received an Academy Award nomination in 1991 for “Blaze of Glory.”
CNBC reported that the New Jersey native founded the Jon Bon Jovi Soul Foundation in 2006 to help those who need shelter and other necessities for those who are struggling in life. He also donated $1 million that same year to build 28 Habitat homes in hurricane-stricken Louisiana for low-income families.
He is married to his high school sweetheart Dorothea Hurley and is a father to four children — Stephanie, Jesse, Romeo, and Jake.