Writers: Jon Bon Jovi, Richie Sambora, and Desmond Child
Producer: Bruce Fairbairn
Recorded: Spring 1986 at Little Mountain Studios in Vancouver, British Columbia
Released: Fall 1986
|Players:||Jon Bon Jovi — vocals, guitar
Richie Sambora — guitar, vocals
Alec John Such — bass, vocals
David Bryan — keyboards
Tico Torres — drums
|Album:||Slippery When Wet (Mercury, 1986)|
The second single from Bon Jovi's third album, “Livin' On A Prayer” became the group's second consecutive Number One hit.
It was a hit two months earlier in the U.K., where it reached Number Four on the singles chart.
The Slippery When Wet album was similarly successful, spending a total of 15 weeks at Number One on the Billboard 200 and reaching Number Six in the U.K.
Considering its success, it's ironic to note that the song — which was one of 35 considered for the Slippery When Wet album — almost didn't make it onto the record. Producer Bruce Fairbairn said, “Jon (Bon Jovi) wasn't that excited about it.” Bon Jovi himself said, “When we wrote 'Livin' On A Prayer,' I said to (lead guitarist) Richie (Sambora), 'Maybe we can get this on a soundtrack or something,' because I never thought it was right for the band.”
Fairbairn convinced Bon Jovi to go with the song, citing its optimistic lyric about two young lovers seeking a better life. “I really heard the lyric in that song as being something that spoke to a lot of people,” Fairbairn said. “So I liked it for that, and I fought for the song. At some point it looked like it might not make the record. I convinced Jon and Richie that it was worth hanging in there, and sure enough, it started to develop… We worked on the harmonies and the chorus, and everything we did to it made the song better.”
Among those enhancement was Sambora's use of a talk box effect, which mixed his voice and guitar into one signal. “We were digging around in Richie's guitar effects box,” Fairbairn remembered. “I grabbed hold of this old tube and up comes this talk box, and I thought, 'Stick this in, I haven't heard one of these since the (Peter) Frampton album.'” Fairbairn was referring to Frampton Comes Alive, which featured talk box on hits such as “Show Me The Way” and “Do You Feel Like We Do.”