Rewinding the Charts: On Valentine's Day 1987, Bon Jovi's 'Livin' On a Prayer' Winged to No. 1

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Bon Jovi photographed in 1987.

On Valentine's Day, the band solidified its standing among the titans of hair bands with its second Hot 100 leader.

"HARD-WORKING, HARD-TOURING pop/metal outfit has built a strong core audience and now has a breakthrough exceptionally strong album that should take the band all the way."   

That's how Billboard praised Bon Jovi's Slippery When Wet in the Sept. 6, 1986, issue, ahead of the set's debut on the Billboard 200 the following week. The critique would soon prove accurate: the album became the New Jersey band's first of six Billboard 200 No. 1s, as well as its longest-leading (eight weeks) and top-seller (12 million copies in the United States, according to the Recording Industry Assn. of America). Previously, the group had reached No. 43 with its eponymous 1984 debut LP and No. 37 with 1985's 7800 Degrees Farenheit.

Slippery When Wet likewise established Bon Jovi as force on the Billboard Hot 100, as lead single "You Give Love a Bad Name" topped the Nov. 29, 1986 tally (besting the band's prior high of No. 39, set by its debut 1984 hit "Runaway"). Follow-up "Livin' on a Prayer" took the band to further heights, reigning for four frames beginning Feb. 14, 1987, marking the act's longest-ruling of four No. 1s to date. The smash's legacy remains strong nearly three decades later (symbolically realizing the aspirations of its lyrical principals, Tommy and Gina), having become Bon Jovi's signature song. It even re-entered the Hot 100 (at No. 25) for a week in 2013 thanks to its synch in a user-generated viral video.

Meanwhile, "Name" and "Prayer" co-writer Desmond Child, who penned both songs with the band's Jon Bon Jovi and Richie Sambora (who departed in 2013), has likewise enjoyed subsequent success, co-authoring, along with other Bon Jovi hits, Ricky Martin's "Livin' La Vida Loca" and Katy Perry's "Waking Up in Vegas."

In 2016, Bon Jovi added its most recent Billboard 200 No. 1, This House Is Not for Sale, and in 2018, the band was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, performing with Sambora. Looking at the group as it received its honor, Jon Bon Jovi said, "Tonight, the band that agreed to do me a favor stands before you so I can make this reality a dream."