“Livin’ on a Prayer” is Bon Jovi’s second chart-topping song from their third album Slippery When Wet. Written by Jon Bon Jovi, Richie Sambora, and Desmond Child, the single, released in late 1986, was well received at both rock and pop radio and its music video was given heavy rotation at MTV, giving the band their first No. 1 on the Billboard Mainstream Rock chart and their second consecutive No. 1 Billboard Hot 100 hit.
The song is the band’s signature song, topping fan-voted lists and re-charting around the world decades after its release. The original 45-RPM single release sold 800,000 copies in the United States, and in 2013 was certified Triple Platinum for over 3 million digital downloads. The official music video has over 440 million views on YouTube as of May 2018.
Jon Bon Jovi did not like the original recording of this song, which can be found as a hidden track on 100,000,000 Bon Jovi Fans Can’t Be Wrong. Lead guitarist Richie Sambora, however, convinced him the song was good, and they reworked it with a new bass guitar line (recorded by Hugh McDonald uncredited), different drum fills and the use of a talk box to include it on their upcoming album Slippery When Wet. The song spent two weeks at number one on the Mainstream Rock Tracks, from January 31 to February 14, 1987, and four weeks at number one on the Billboard Hot 100, from February 14 to March 14. It also hit number four on the UK singles chart.
The album version of the song timed around 4:10, fades out at the end. However, the music video game Guitar Hero World Tour features the song’s original studio ending, where the band revisits the intro riff and end with a talk box solo; this version ends at 4:53. The original ending is also playable on the similar video game Rock Band 2, though edited in this case (thereby eliminating the talk box solo at the end). The version included on the 2005 DualDisc edition of Slippery When Wet has an extended version of the original ending, with a different talk box solo playing over the riff (possibly taken from an outtake of the song); this version, which fades out at the end like the standard version of the song, ends at 5:06.
After the September 11, 2001 attacks – in which New Jersey was the second-hardest hit state after New York City, suffering hundreds of casualties among both WTC workers and first responders – the band performed an acoustic version of this song for New York. Bon Jovi performed a similar version as part of special America: A Tribute to Heroes.
This video is the band’s performance of the song at The Letterman Show.
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