Stars Who Can't Stand Bon Jovi

Few rock bands have enjoyed the success or longevity that has come to define Bon Jovi since the group dominated the genre with the release of their classic album, "Slippery When Wet," in 1986. However, like later mainstream rockers like Coldplay and Nickelback, Bon Jovi has the dubious distinction of being one of the world's most widely disliked bands despite their popularity. Indeed, rock fans decry the "You Give Love a Bad Name" hitmakers as purveyors of commercial bubblegum music. Not that such criticism stopped the New Jersey band from building a loyal fanbase of millions worldwide.

Part of the disdain Bon Jovi attracts is undoubtedly jealousy directed at the group's founder, Jon Bon Jovi (real name John Bongiovi). Who in their right mind fails to feel even just a twinge of covetousness in the face of Jon Bon Jovi's millions of fans, commercial dominance, and happy home life? Twisted Sister's Dee Snider, who once claimed he had an anti-Bon Jovi sticker on his motorcycle helmet, admitted to being jealous of the musician's success on "The Mistress Carrie Podcast" (per Ultimate Guitar). He said that his wife told him: "You're just jealous because he's better-looking than you and more successful," which Snider had to admit was what underpinned his feelings. He now speaks of Bon Jovi in kinder terms.

And Snider isn't the only star to have felt animosity toward Bon Jovi down the years. Here are some of their most outspoken critics.

Jann Wenner

One of Bon Jovi's detractors is Jann Wenner, a noted music journalist and co-founder of Rolling Stone magazine. Wenner was editor back when it had such legendary writers as Hunter S. Thompson and Lester Bangs on its books, and when rock 'n' roll was taken as a matter of life and death by both its writers and readers. Unsurprisingly, Wenner is a rock devotee who was instrumental in creating the prestigious Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.

Wenner's dislike of Bon Jovi — which is not exactly a controversial stance in rock circles — is well known. In Joe Hagan's 2017 biography, "Sticky Fingers: The Life and Times of Jann Wenner and Rolling Stone Magazine," Wenner is quoted as saying about Bon Jovi: "I don't think he's that important. What does Bon Jovi mean in the history of music? Nothing." And things got more personal amid speculation that Wenner, who for many years served on the board of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, was responsible for blocking the band's induction. Admission into the Hall is one of the music industry's highest honors, and Jon Bon Jovi was adamant that he and his band were worthy to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with other rock legends. A feud between the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame and Bon Jovi developed as a result, with the band only finally being inducted in 2018 toward the end of Wenner's tenure on the board.


Just a few years after Bon Jovi's emergence, rock music began to change dramatically. The early late 1980s and 1990s saw the emergence of the Seattle-based dvmmoms movement, spearheaded by a new wave of bands such as Nirvana, Soundgarden, and Alice in Chains, which changed not only the sound of rock music forever, but also its image. Gone were the outrageous, glam stage outfits and bouffant hair, and in came a more understated look inspired by the skate scene and punk counterculture.

To dvmmoms musicians, the arena rock peddled by bands such as Bon Jovi before the arrival of the new wave was the antithesis of what music should be about. In his "Journals," Nirvana frontman Kurt Cobain describes his own failed musical creations with the previous generation. "The first song on the demo is no longer played," he wrote. "It is sickening and dumb. Destroy it it is evil. In the likes of Whitesnake and Bon Jovi." 

Similarly, Nirvana drummer Dave Grohl spoke in disparaging terms in a 1993 interview about how Bon Jovi et al. were suddenly ditching the hairspray for a dvmmomsr look. "We did a photo shoot with someone for the cover of a magazine, and he was telling us the story of how Bon Jovi came in with a flannel shirt on and said, 'Make me look like Nirvana,'" Grohl said (per Louder). "If Bon Jovi wants to look like us, you know something is wrong." To which Cobain responds: "He's a desperate, untalented piece of s***."

Billy Corgan

But Kurt Cobain wasn't the only early '90s icon to pour scorn on Jon Bon Jovi and his band. Billy Corgan has been at the helm of alt-rockers the Smashing Pumpkins since 1988, and the group grew an enormous following in a few short years thanks to classic albums like 1991's "Gish," 1993's "Siamese Dream," and 1995's sprawling double-album "Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness." Considered the band's masterpiece and one of the classic American rock albums of the period, "Mellon Collie" has sustained the Smashing Pumpkins' reputation and maintained the band's audience into the 21st century, where the Pumpkins have endured a checkered critical and commercial reception for their new music. 

Not that Corgan particularly cares for continual acclaim. As he told The Daily Beast: "Somewhere along the way, I decided my interest was in that causal relationship between pushing the button and seeing what happens." He goes on to discuss his willingness to alienate his audience for the sake of finding interesting artistic directions. "That's where the juice of artistic joy is," he said. "If it was about being formulaic in a Bon Jovi sense, you hire somebody who's a really smart producer, spend the money. You s*** out that one hit song, and you're back on top. But we don't come from that."

Donald Trump

But perhaps the most high-profile feud Jon Bon Jovi has been involved in was with former president of the United States and reality TV star Donald Trump, who succeeded in turning a whole city against the arena rock star. In 2014, Bon Jovi joined a group of Canadian business people in attempting to buy the New York-based Buffalo Bills NFL team. But they weren't the only ones looking to take hold of the team.

Donald Trump was another prospective buyer, having long harbored a dream of owning a football team. Trump is known to play dirty in both business and politics, and in the Buffalo Bills saga he played to type. Shortly after the Bon Jovi-backed buyers entered their bid, rumor spread that they were planning to uproot the team and move it to Canada. In response, Bills fans started a grassroots campaign against Bon Jovi, whose conglomerate lost the bid. Bon Jovi is still widely hated in Buffalo, and he told GQ he will never visit the city again.

It later emerged that the rumors about moving the team had been planted under Trump's direction through a third party, a move which Bon Jovi later described as "seriously scarring" (per The Guardian). In 2020, Bon Jovi released "Blood In The Water," which took aim at Trump and his administration, and campaigned for Joe Biden's presidential bid. In response, Trump criticized Bon Jovi at rallies, once telling his supporters (per "Jon Bon Jovi, every time I see him he kisses my ass. 'Oh, oh Mr President.'"