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Jon Bon Jovi’s Mom, Carol Bongiovi, Dead at 83

Jon Bon Jovi’s mother, Carol A. Bongiovi, died yesterday, July 9, at the Monmouth Medical Center in Long Branch, New Jersey. She was 83. 

Bon Jovi confirmed his mother’s death in a statement, though no cause was given. She died just three days before her 84th birthday. 

“Our mother was a force to be reckoned with, her spirit and can-do attitude shaped this family,” Bon Jovi said. “She will be greatly missed.”

Bongiovi played an important role in fostering her son’s musical ambitions. She’s probably best known for launching the Bon Jovi fan club and running it out of the flower shop she ran in Woodbridge, New Jersey. But she also encouraged Bon Jovi’s love of performing and music as a kid, buying him his first acoustic guitar when he was just seven, according to Laura Jackson’s Bon Jovi biography.

In the 2021 video for Bon Jovi’s “Story of Love,” the musician honored his whole family, but especially the long relationship between his mother and father, John Bongiovi, Sr. The clip found Bon Jovi singing the song in a room filled with old family heirlooms and photos, including a prominent portrait of his parents when they were younger.

Bongiovi was born Carol Sharkey and grew up in Erie, Pennsylvania. She enlisted in the Marines in 1959, met her future husband there, and the couple soon married and moved to Sayreville, New Jersey. The couple had three kids, Jon (real name John Francis Bongiovi Jr.), Anthony, and Matthew.

In a 2007 interview with The Telegraph, Bon Jovi said of his childhood, “‘It was your typical 1960s-1970s kinda upbringing. I really admire that my parents stayed together; they toughed it out, the good and the bad.”

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While Carol eventually became a florist (and John Sr. ran a beauty salon), she famously spent some time working as a bunny at one of the Playboy clubs in Manhattan. In a 2006 interview with Larry King, Bon Jovi recalled, “I did go there as a kid. Oh God, did I have the stories and the pictures. They had their little outfit and my dad was like this hip cat because he was married to a Playboy bunny.”

Speaking with the Big Issue in 2020 about his parents’ influence on his life, Bon Jovi said he got from them the “ability to make the dream reality.” He continued: “Even if you truly weren’t any good at your craft, if you believed you were, you could work on it. As I got older I realized that was a great gift that I got from my folks. They truly believed in the John Kennedy mantra of going to the moon. ‘Yeah, of course you can go to the moon. Just go, Johnny.’ And there I went.”

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