Jon Bon Jovi says vocal injury that threatened his career felt like ‘God was taking away my ability’

Jon Bon Jovi has reflected on his return to live performance following his “cutting edge” vocal cord surgery.

The 61-year-old singer-songwriter underwent surgery in 2022, and says he feared he might lose his ability to sing live.

“I pride myself on having been a true vocalist,” he said. “I’ve sung with Pavarotti. I know how to sing, I’ve studied the craft for forty years. I’m not a stylist who just barks and howls. I know how to sing. So when God was taking away my ability, I couldn’t understand why. I joke that the only thing that’s ever been up my nose is my finger, so there’s no reason for any of this.”

Bon Jovi was speaking in Pasadena, California, at a panel event for Thank You, Goodnight, a new Hulu documentary series about Bon Jovi and his band’s rise to fame.

Describing the state of his vocal cords prior to surgery, Bon Jovi explained: “One of my cords was literally atrophied. Your vocal cords are supposed to look parallel. Let’s pretend that they’re as thick as a thumb, one of mine was as thick as a thumb and the other was as thick as a pinkie. The strong one was pushing the weak one aside. My craft was being taken from me.”

“Fortunately, I found this surgeon who was able to do this really cutting-edge implant to build the cord back up. It’s still in process, but, as I say in the film, in the latter episodes, if I just had my tools back... The rest of it I can deal with. I can write you a song. I can perform as well as anybody, but I need to get my tools back.

Jon Bon Jovi attends the MusiCares Person of the Year gala in Los Angeles on 2 February 2024 (AFP via Getty Images)
Jon Bon Jovi attends the MusiCares Person of the Year gala in Los Angeles on 2 February 2024 (AFP via Getty Images)

“19 and a half months into my rehab, Friday night was the first time that I sung in public. Saturday morning is the first time I woke up without multiple voices in my head. It was just me.”

Last Friday, Bon Jovi performed live with Bruce Springsteen as he was honoured for his musical achievements and philanthropic efforts as the MusiCares Person of the Year.

Thank You, Goodnight is a four-part docuseries, directed by Gotham Chopra (Kobe Bryant’s Muse, Man In The Arena) and features four decades worth of personal videos and interviews following Bon Jovi and his band’s rise to fame.

Reflecting on getting his start as a songwriter, Bon Jovi joked that as a young man he didn’t have the same life experiences as Taylor Swift.

“At 20, when I got a record deal, I didn’t have a lot else to write about other than High School,” said the 61-year-old singer and songwriter. “And I didn’t break up with people like Taylor [Swift] did all the time…”

Thank You, Goodnight is set to air in the US on Hulu and internationally on Disney+ on 26 April.