The story behind Bon Jovi’s ‘Slippery When Wet’ album cover
Slippery When Wet is Bon Jovi‘s third studio album and according to Wikipedia is the band’s biggest selling album with 28,000,000 copies sold worldwide. The group’s original album cover for Slippery When Wet is part of the eleven banned album covers that are featured in Sleaze Roxx‘s Censored section.
Rock Scene Auctions has provided the following story behind Bon Jovi‘s Slippery When Wet album cover (with slight edits):
“World renowned photographer Mark “Weissguy” Weiss talks about the making of the infamous Slippery When Wet album cover. Bon Jovi has released 13 studio albums and has sold more than 130 million records worldwide and performed more than 2,700 concerts in over 50 countries for more than 34 million fans. Bon Jovi will be inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame on April 14, 2018.
In January 1986, Bon Jovi went to Little Mountain Studios in Vancouver to start work on their third record. I was asked to brainstorm ideas for the album cover. The name they gave me to work with was “Wanted Dead or Alive.” The idea was to show the five of them as the Bon Jovi “gang,” and have the “Wanted” poster tacked to the wall where they were “hiding out.”
Once in Vancouver, I scouted locations while the guys were finishing recording with producer Bruce Fairbairn. I found an old abandoned building to use as a background for the shoot. This would be their “hideout,” and we’d have the “Wanted” poster hanging in the background. We spent hours in this old abandoned barn shooting individuals and band photos for the cover. The band and management wasn’t sold on the cowboy idea and was still brainstorming for others.
The guys came home after finishing the album, the album title was changed to Slippery When Wet inspired by the #5. A strip club in Vancouver near where they were recording. The idea was to do a photo by the beach and get some girls posing with cut out shirts with the new title of the album on it. Jon lived right across the street from the beach in Bradley Beach, New Jersey, where we did the shoot. All the guys came with their cars, motorcycles and girls.
We needed a few more girls so I walked across the street and pulled a few more. My assistant Danny took a walk with Tico across the street and came back with just what the Dr. ordered. An Italian hot girl named Angela. We found her – this was going to be the girl on the cover. Then I got some soap and water and started having a car wash party. The photo ended up in the sleeve of the album.
Jon came to my studio in New York shortly after the news that we had to come up with a new cover. He just said to me, “Garbage bag. Spray bottle.” I propped up the bag and sprayed it, then Jon wrote the words Slippery When Wet. “That’s it, there’s the cover.” He didn’t even wait to see the Polaroid. The next day I delivered the photo, and the rest is history.”
Sleaze Roxx stated the following in its retro review of Slippery When Wet last year: “The right songs at the right time at the right place — how else can you explain Bon Jovi‘s absolutely immense success with their third album Slippery When Wet? Today happens to be the 30th anniversary of the release of Bon Jovi‘s Slippery When Wet, which has sold a not so shabby over 28 million copies worldwide. I am kidding of course as having the 33rd highest selling album of all-time is simply an amazing feat that many musicians would likely give their arms and legs for. I never ever thought that I was seeing the next big band to literally explode worldwide when I saw Bon Jovi open for the mighty Judas Priest back on July 25, 1986, a little more than three weeks before the release of Slippery When Wet. On that night, Bon Jovi played one “new” track entitled “You Give Love A Bad Name” which sounded awfully catchy but for which I did not foresee a blockbuster #1 hit.
Say and think what you may want of Bon Jovi these days — and frankly I have never been that much of a Bon Jovi fan — their Slippery When Wet album was superb! It had and still has loads of great songs that will stand the test of time for many many years to come. You have one of the best most poignant ballads of all-time in “Wanted Dead Or Alive” (which still gives me goose bumps to this day) with guitarist Richie Sambora bringing coolness to a whole other level with his multi-neck guitar, calm demeanour and “cowboy” hat. You have — dare I say — one of the best songs of all-time in “Livin’ On A Prayer.” How many people can sing the song word for word? C’mon! It’s simply an amazing song with a great and fun video to boot. “Livin’ On A Prayer” also popularized the ominous “voice box.” Not surprisingly, that song hit #1 just like its predecessor “You Give Love A Bad Name.” Although Slippery When Wet is mostly known for the “big three” tracks that I just mentioned, the great tracks don’t stop there.”