Study Guide

Livin' on a Prayer

Livin' on a Prayer Introduction

In a Nutshell

Bon Jovi's "Livin' on a Prayer" is four minutes and twelve seconds of pure hard-rocking, dancefloor-filling fun. 

The song, a frequent winner in fan voting for "Best Song of the '80s," is perhaps most famous for its soaring chorus, which includes one of the most iconic key changes in all of rock and roll. 

Decades after its original release, "Livin' on a Prayer" remains a huge fan favorite today. Don't believe us? Believe this guy.

About the Song

ArtistBon Jovi
Year1986
LabelMercury Records
Writer(s)Jon Bon Jovi, Richie Sambora, Desmond Child
Producer(s)Brian Fairbairn
Musician(s)Jon Bon Jovi (vocals, guitar), Richie Sambora (guitar), Alex John Such (bass), Tico Torres (drums), David Bryan (keyboards)
Learn to play
AlbumSlippery When Wet

Music Video

Influences on Bon Jovi

Tom Waits
Elvis Costello
Bruce Springsteen
Alice Cooper
Aerosmith
Kiss
Eric Clapton
Jeff Beck
Jimi Hendrix
Led Zeppelin
Bob Dylan
The Beatles
Bad Company
AC/DC
Judas Priest

Influenced by Bon Jovi

Skid Row
Damn Yankees
Poison
Nickleback
Hoobastank
My Chemical Romance
Slaughter
Dragonforce

Livin' on a Prayer Resources

Books

Bon Jovi, When We Were Beautiful (2009)
This book is the first official band-authorized version of the Bon Jovi story.

Neil Daniels, The Bon Jovi Encyclopedia (2009)
It's all here, from A to Z: everything you could possibly want to know about Bon Jovi and their music.

Albums

Bon Jovi, Bon Jovi (1984)
Bon Jovi's debut album, released in 1984, featured a sound a bit more raw than that of Slippery Than Wet, but clearly hinted at the glory that was to come in great songs like "Runaway."

Bon Jovi, Slippery When Wet (1986)
This is it: the chart-topping album that turned Bon Jovi into the biggest band in the world in 1986. "Livin' on a Prayer" was released as the second single off the album, joining "Wanted Dead and Alive" and "You Give Love a Bad Name" in cracking the top ten. The album has sold more than 28 million copies worldwide.

Bon Jovi, New Jersey (1988)
New Jersey was the multiplatinum follow-up to Slippery When Wet. The strains of constant recording and touring to support both records from 1986 to '89 nearly led to a breakup of the band. But the music here still captures Bon Jovi at their '80s peak.

Jon Bon Jovi, Blaze of Glory (1990)
While the band went on hiatus for a couple years at the beginning of the 1990s, Jon Bon Jovi took the opportunity to put together this memorable solo project, the soundtrack to the Western film Young Guns II. The title track became a huge hit, and Bon Jovi also made his acting debut in a brief cameo in the film.

Bon Jovi, Crush (2000)
By the dawn of the 21st century, a rejuvenated Bon Jovi released the hit record Crash, which introduced the band to a whole new generation of who barely remembered the big-hair days of the 1980s. "It's My Life" became a huge hit single.

Bon Jovi, Lost Highway (2007)
In the 2000s, the band took a radical new stylistic direction. Recording in Nashville, the band released what was essentially a country record.

Images

In Concert, 1988
Bon Jovi in concert decades ago: The hair may be different, but the onstage energy remains the same today.

'80s Version
Jon Bon Jovi was a major heartthrob in the 1980s.

2000s Version
And for many, Jon Bon Jovi remains a major heartthrob today.

Movies & TV

Bon Jovi: The Crush Tour (2000)
The Crush Tour DVD captures a complete Bon Jovi concert, recorded live in Switzerland in 2000; the performance here is a more typical hard-rocking show than the more recent Lost Highway concert.

Young Guns II (1990)
Jon Bon Jovi wrote and performed the soundtrack to this nouveau Western. Bon Jovi's hit theme song "Blaze of Glory" may well be the best thing about the movie, although it's fun to see young stars Kiefer Sutherland, Christian Slater, Lou Diamond Phillips, and Emilio Estevez try to give the old story of Billy the Kid some modern swagger. Bon Jovi makes a brief acting cameo in the film.

U-571 (2000)
Jon Bon Jovi's biggest acting role to date occurs in this submarine drama, which tells the unlikely story of a crew of American sailors seeking to capture a German U-boat during World War II. Bon Jovi plays a naval engineer.

Bon Jovi: Lost Highway—The Concert (2007)
This Bon Jovi concert DVD captures a full performance of the band's 2007 country-tinged Lost Highway.

Websites

Bon Jovi's Official Site
This is the band's official site, the place to go for band-sanctioned tour schedules, merch, pics, audio, and video.

Bon Jovi on Rolling Stone
America's premier music magazine offers a wealth of Bon Jovi content. Check out the biography and—especially—the original reviews of the band's albums. (Perhaps surprisingly, the Rolling Stone's review of Slippery When Wet is brutal. Apparently the 28 million people who bought the record felt differently.)

Video & Audio

Bon Jovi, "Livin' on a Prayer"
Here's our song of the hour in all its Bon Jovi glory.

9/11 Memorial Version
In 2001, just following the 9/11 terrorist attacks, Bon Jovi performed a slow, mournful version "Livin' on a Prayer" as part of the America: A Concert for Heroes fundraising event.

Live in Concert '86
This rare concert footage captures the band performing "Livin' on a Prayer" in 1986, just after its release. From the crowd's reaction, it's clear that the song hasn't yet become as well known as Bon Jovi's earlier 1984 hit, "Runaway."

Dancing Fan
"Livin' on a Prayer" has a rare effect upon fans. This guy, caught on the Jumbotron during a timeout during a Boston Celtics game, simply can't keep from rocking out.