The funny story of when Bon Jovi was ZZ Top’s opening act

Bon Jovi was formed in Sayreville, New Jersey in 1983. Prior to the release of their debut album, they had the opportunity to open for ZZ Top, one of the most popular bands of that year. As the band members recalled over the years, they became apprehensive due to technical difficulties just prior to the beginning of their performance.

The amusing tale of when Bon Jovi opened for ZZ Top. Jon Bon Jovi recalled in a 2021 interview with AXS TV (transcribed by Rock and Roll Garage) that his most memorable moment on stage was when the band opened for ZZ Top and Richie Sambora had a nervous breakdown. “That’s impossible, how many over almost four decades. There are so many that I can recall. The first night we performed at (Madison Square) Garden in 1983, we opened for ZZ Top before the release of our debut album. We were about to begin the first song, and the audience is being polite.

Then silence ensues. Richie was supposed to begin the first song, but his guitar had died. The chant began to intensify: “ZZ Top, ZZ Top, ZZ Top.” The audience is becoming restless, and he is in a state of panic. I must remove my guitar, toss it to him, and say, “You’re on your own, play the guitar.” He plays my music at a volume of ten. And we complete a thirty-minute set in seventeen minutes. So this is the first that comes to mind. That is correct,” Jon Bon Jovi stated. This moment can be heard on a YouTube bootleg:

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