Another Musician Accuses Bon Jovi Of Plagiarism


August 10, 2008

After posting a report by Chris Faraone of Boston Magazine in which Bart Steele accused Bon Jovi of ripping off one of his songs, Sleaze Roxx received an email from former Cats In Boots and Heavy Bones vocalist Joel Ellis claiming that a similar thing happened to him. Joel’s email can be read in its entirety below:

“It was back in the 1980’s when Denny Holan and I were recording our pre-production demos for Atlantic Records with Merri Hoaxx. We had just finished tracking a studio session that included our original song “I’ll Be There For You”. We left Paramount Studios in Hollywood with a cassette tape of rough mixes and headed straight for The Rainbow Bar & Grill on Sunset. When we got there we gave the tape to Michael to put on the Bar’s sound system, it was the classic “Is It Worthy” test for demos and mixes that a lot of bands used to gage their nights work. We’d always pop on the song and listen for the sounds then we would watch to see if people were digging the songs. The place was definitely digging the songs that night.

I ran into Sam Kinison who asked me to come back to his table and hang out. So while our tape was playing, we sat at the table in the back with Sam, Jon Bon Jovi, Peter Aykroyd (Dan’s brother) and Doc McGee, etc… Johnny gave us this line of BS that if we gave him this tape he would take it to his uncle at Polydor Records and try to get us out on tour with him.

I somehow felt like I was going to regret that, but we agreed to take a chance and trust him, so we gave Jon Bon Jovi the cassette that night and we never heard back from him. A short time later we heard the chorus for our song “I’ll be theeerrre for youuuu” as JBJs next big hit. My manager at the time wanted to sue his ass but we were doing well and were very busy with all the Atlantic developments going on that I didn’t want to cause problems for our momentum that we had going at the time. I hated when people would note the resemblance between Jon Bon Jovi and me at the time and I didn’t want to give the world any other reasons to compare me to the Golden Boy Johnny. We were in no way similar to each other and strongly resented any comparison…I wasn’t pop singer, I was a rock singer and I wasn’t a self righteous frosted hair perm boy with relatives who paved my way so I could steal songs from real artists and get rich off of ripping them off. I was a self made true rocker from the streets to the stage to the studio to the stores, with no help from daddy’s friends & relatives and we rocked without the posing. Whatever successes or short comings I had were of my own making, but it was real. So I didn’t care about that song.

Later on during the Heavy Bones days, I was dating a girl named Lehua Reid, who was previously engaged to Richie Sambora. While she lived at Richie’s house, she told me about how she remembered the nights that Jon Bon Jovi and Richie Sambora would sit at Richie’s piano with boxes full of tapes they had collected from trusting aspiring musicians who trusted them with their creations for a shot at success, how they would play through tape after tape looking for catchy songs to rip off all the while laughing at the suckers who gave them their tapes. When she heard my demo recording of “I’ll Be There For You” she sat back, eyes wide open, saying “NO WAY!!! This is YOU??”, and went on to tell me about the night that they were so excited to be ripping off this song and how Johnny had always wanted an excuse to rip off John Lennon for his vocal in the verse of “Don’t Let Me Down” by the Beatles. They worked on that song for hours playing my demo over and over again and it stuck in her head.

Of course I had already known where their recent huge hit single had come from but hearing her tell that story was like salt in the wound…I’ve always felt that people should know about this and I still have the original demo. If anyone in the world wants to hear it I’ll be happy to put an Mpeg up on my website so they can hear it too.

I wonder how many other guys are out there right now feeling the same burn from the Golden Boy Jon Bon Jovi and his trusty side kick Richie Rich.”

Joel Ellis of Merri Hoaxx, Cats In Boots and Heavy Bones.

Courtesy of