meta-scriptBeastie Boys' Ad-Rock And Mike D, Spike Jonze Talk Growing Up In New Documentary 'Beastie Boys Story' | GRAMMY.com
Beastie Boys

Mike Diamond, Adam Yauch and Adam Horovitz in 1993 from an archival photo used in 'Beastie Boys Story' on Apple TV+

Courtesy Photo: Apple TV+

 

news

Beastie Boys' Ad-Rock And Mike D, Spike Jonze Talk Growing Up In New Documentary 'Beastie Boys Story'

The two surviving members of the GRAMMY-winning hip-hop trio, alongside the film's director, discuss how the new documentary reflects their growth and evolution as a band, as friends and as men

GRAMMYs/Apr 24, 2020 - 09:56 pm

Promoting their new documentary, Beastie Boys Story, premiering today (April 24) on Apple TV+, the two surviving members of GRAMMY-winning hip-hop trio Beastie Boys, Adam "Ad-Rock" Horovitz and Michael "Mike D" Diamond, alongside the film's director and the group's longtime collaborator and friend, Spike Jonze, participated in a Zoom round-table video interview with select journalists earlier this week to talk about the project.

These pandemic times have affected every aspect of life as we know it, particularly when it comes to how we communicate with each other, and nowhere is this more evident than within the realms of entertainment and media. On TV, news anchors and talk show hosts broadcast from their kitchens and basements, reflecting many of our own work environments, while meetings of all kinds take place via video conferencing apps, providing a new semblance of personal exchange and connection. The Beastie Boys Zoom experience was no exception. 

While the question-and-answer conversation was structured and moderated, it provided some loose moments, offering glimpses of each artist's homelife—Horovitz rested his head on a bed pillow for most of the interview—and exchanges of laughs and love.

The same could be said of the doc itself, which features Diamond and Horovitz live onstage during last year's theater book tour for their GRAMMY-nominated, career-chronicling 2018 tome, "Beastie Boys Book." It's been almost 35 years since the New York-bred band began making music. The new documentary shares their decades-long story in a scripted yet personal, TED-Talks-style presentation, backdropped by old photos and video footage taken throughout their career.

<style>.embed-container { position: relative; padding-bottom: 56.25%; height: 0; overflow: hidden; max-width: 100%; } .embed-container iframe, .embed-container object, .embed-container embed { position: absolute; top: 0; left: 0; width: 100%; height: 100%; }</style><div class='embed-container'><iframe src='https://www.youtube.com/embed//ZCyqR2RXoQU' frameborder='0' allowfullscreen></iframe></div>

Beastie Boys Story eschews the conventional talking-head documentary format and lets the guys share and reminisce in their own way about their development, crediting in large part producers Russell Simmons and Rick Rubin, their maturing perspectives and, most significantly, their late bandmate, Adam "MCA" Yauch, who died of cancer in 2012. The film offers an insightful and at times bittersweet look at how Yauch, who originally formed and named the group, used his artistic and activist vision to help transcend the group from its raucous rap and rock revelry of their youth to become sonic innovators and cultural icons.

The Recording Academy joined Diamond, Horovitz and Jonze, alongside a group of fellow writers and journalists, on a video conference call to discuss how Beastie Boys Story captures the group's growth and evolution—as a band, as friends and as men.

This interview includes questions and comments from writers and contributors not associated with the Recording Academy.

Journalist: It's interesting to see the two of you look back at your lives and admit your mistakes and have interaction with Spike Jonze. Who came up with the concept [for the film]?

Michael "Mike D" Diamond (founding member of Beastie Boys): It sort of evolved over time. We had the "Beastie Boys Book," and when that came out, we were faced with the idea [of], "What are we supposed to do now, go out and do some book readings and feel kinda lame?" So with [director] Spike [Jonze], [we came up] with this idea to do more of a performance. We were trying to tell our story, give a sense of the arc of time [in which] the story takes place. But it was tricky. The book is 500-something pages, and we didn't expect people to sit in their seats to deal with us for much more than two hours. Adam and I got together to write, and then Spike would be at the run-throughs and we'd rewrite things. We did those shows in New York, Brooklyn, Los Angeles, San Francisco, London, and toured it around a little bit. Of course, when we got to the end, we were like, "Hmm … we should've filmed that." So we took a little break, then we started to rewrite the show with the idea of filming it and getting more of the story down: How we as a band have always worked and how we've always worked with Spike, is just all of us getting together and a lot of ideas coming and sort of implementing them on the fly.

Spike Jonze (GRAMMY-winning director and filmmaker who directed Beastie Boys Story): It's like we threw as many different chairs and umbrellas and photos and records and doves up in the air, and then we just saw how many we could catch.

Journalist: One thing that struck me from the doc is the moment when Mike D says, "It could've been any three white guys from Def Jam's position." It struck me as odd. What would make you say that?

Mike D: In that moment, looking back at it, when Rick Rubin introduced us to Russell Simmons, Russell saw this thing in us that we didn't see in ourselves. He saw this ability … he was like, "These guys love rap music and they're going to make rap records and I can take that to an audience and I'm gonna get them on the covers of magazines." Honestly, at the time, it was a struggle for Russell, in terms of like rap being this very underground, alternative culture that he was trying to bust into the mainstream. I think he just saw us as an important part of that program. So to clarify, it could've been us or it could've been a couple other dudes. That's what Russell's mission was. And Rick's mission was he just wanted to make great records.

Adam "Ad-Rock" Horovitz (longtime member of Beastie Boys): Also, we were terrible. We were really bad when we were just starting out. So it's not like [Simmons] found this undiscovered gem, like these guys that could really rap or really play guitar or whatever the thing was. We were really bad.

Jonze: They're talking about when they started out, when they were 16-17 and doing Run-DMC rhymes together in their bedrooms, not so much when they were making their first record and finding their voice.

Adam Horovitz and Mike Diamond in Beastie Boys Story, on Apple TV+ | Courtesy Photo: Apple TV+

Journalist: When you go back and watch this film, were there things that surprised you that came up, or about the way that the audience responded?

Horovitz: There were definitely times seeing the pictures, even though we knew what was coming and what was going to be on the screen; it was really nice. It was surprising how I wanted to just pause on those moments and take the picture and the memory in.  

Journalist: Did you ever believe that you were going to be one of the biggest rap acts [ever]?

Horovitz That wasn't anything that we thought about, really. We come from a punk rock background. It wasn't like, "We're going to make it one day." It was like, day to day, is it going to be fun? So it was wild when people started buying our first record and we started playing bigger shows. It wasn't part of our plan, but it was f*ckin' cool.

<style>.embed-container { position: relative; padding-bottom: 56.25%; height: 0; overflow: hidden; max-width: 100%; } .embed-container iframe, .embed-container object, .embed-container embed { position: absolute; top: 0; left: 0; width: 100%; height: 100%; }</style><div class='embed-container'><iframe src='https://www.youtube.com/embed//eBShN8qT4lk' frameborder='0' allowfullscreen></iframe></div>

Journalist: In the documentary, you talked about writing [the Beastie Boys' 1986 hit single] "Fight For Your Right" as a way to mock bro culture. But you confessed that, in a sense, you became those guys. How did you pull yourselves out of that?

Diamond: We were in my apartment in West Village in New York City, and we don't have any bro dudes in our circle, so it seemed like a really funny thing to make fun of. We didn't have this vision of, "We're gonna make it big." So we do this song that's kind of a goof. Then we go on tour and those dudes are in the front row, and you kind of go with it because you're getting applauded … Then after a bit, it's like, "Whoa, wait a second. The world we came from is so not that world." And we missed who we were in that world. Because we had a falling out with Def Jam, it brought us back to the three of us and we got to take a break and look at each other and be like, "OK, what do we want to do?"

Read: The Beastie Boys Provide A License To Party

Horovitz: It's like if you get the extra large bag of Frito chips and you start eating them and you're like, '"Whoa, these taste really good." Then you're like, "They're really salty and they're making me feel bad," but you keep eating them and eating them. Then when you're done with the bag, you're like, "Wow, I'm never gonna eat another f*cking Frito again."

Jonze: That's a poignant metaphor.

The Recording Academy: I love how the documentary showed the evolution of the band and how you tackled more politics and social ideas over the years. Obviously, Adam [Yauch] became very involved in activism, and the band reflected that. If the Beastie Boys were still making music now, how would they tackle the world and Donald Trump and today's issues?

Horovitz: Donald Trump is so awful I don't even want to give him space in my brain. He's awful … not even funny-awful.

Jonze: If you [search] YouTube [for] "MTV Awards Beastie Boys Woodstock," there's a clip of Adam—this is [in] 1999 or so, when it was extra-not-cool to be political—and they go onstage right after Woodstock happened.

Read: Why Can't Anyone Get Woodstock Right? 15 Of The Original Fest's Performers Weigh In

Adam Horowitz goes up and talks about how appalling what happened was: the lack of security, that bands need to step up and push to have better security and look out for women at these festivals and these shows. He's basically urging all the artists to take it seriously. There were no other artists talking about that at the time. I mean, it was really moving … I was just watching it at home and it was not popular.

<style>.embed-container { position: relative; padding-bottom: 56.25%; height: 0; overflow: hidden; max-width: 100%; } .embed-container iframe, .embed-container object, .embed-container embed { position: absolute; top: 0; left: 0; width: 100%; height: 100%; }</style><div class='embed-container'><iframe src='https://www.youtube.com/embed//wDw-pKCCs0o' frameborder='0' allowfullscreen></iframe></div>

Diamond: We weren't supported in the room. It wasn't like everyone was like, "Oh yes, finally someone's saying it!" It was basically us saying, "We all need to talk about this because it's happening." But it was this thing that nobody wanted to talk about because no one wanted to admit that it was happening.

The Recording Academy: Sounds like sort of a pre-#MeToo thing. You recognized that within concert culture, these things were happening. So you might have continued down that path, perhaps? Speaking out about these things?

Horovitz: Yeah, absolutely. Honestly, it was, for me at least, just being around Adam Yauch—him just saying the things that he did and taking stands that he did publicly. It was inspiring for me to be like, "Oh, you can make fart jokes and actually also care about people?" And respect your place in the public, that you have a platform to say things and people will listen—whether they give a sh*t or not, I don't know. He was always really inspiring, like, "Oh, wow. If Yauch can do it, I can do it."

Journalist: One of the things I loved about Yauch was the fact that he could look back at ways he behaved in the past and apologize for it and say, "I was wrong, I was stupid." How do you explain the [early] Licensed To Ill years to your kids?

Diamond: Being a father of teenagers, I don't know how I first explained it, but I was really happy that they got to travel with me a bunch while I was doing these shows, because this is going to happen to all of us. We are all going to have these actions that we're ultimately not proud of and we're all going to have situations in our lives that we could've handled better. We're so grateful. Here I am with my best friends, Adam and Spike, and we get to talk about that.

Journalist: What do you hope people watching [the documentary] take away or learn about you guys or your journey?

Jonze: I liked the idea of trying to represent everything I love about them and their band. And I love the idea of just the people that were in the car, on the road trip, telling the story. We don't have anyone else talking about the band from a cultural perspective. I wanted to really just capture the way they create and the spirit in which they're a band and their friendship. Not many bands that have been together that long are actually great friends through the whole thing; it feels like a lot of times when a band gets older, they're in a band together almost as a business. And I feel like nothing that these guys ever did was about that. It would be, first and foremost, about what the three of them wanted to do. So I hope [the film] just captures their love for each other [and] their friendship.

Billy Joel to Beastie Boys: 9 New York album covers

Megan Thee Stallion performing in Houston June 2024
Megan Thee Stallion performs in Houston on June 15, 2024.

Photo: Kevin Mazur/Getty Images for Live Nation

list

5 Iconic Moments From Megan Thee Stallion's Houston Hometown Shows

Megan Thee Stallion returned to Houston on June 14 and 15 for an epic homecoming filled with surprise guests, gifts and plenty of twerking. Revisit five of the most exciting moments from the Houston stops on the rapper's Hot Girl Summer Tour.

GRAMMYs/Jun 17, 2024 - 08:31 pm

Seven years into her career, Megan Thee Stallion is no stranger to a sold-out crowd. The rapper has been dubbed "Sold-out Stalli" since selling out nearly 20 shows on her Hot Girl Summer Tour — and though her stops at Houston's Toyota Center weren't the first sellouts on the trek, they were considerably the most meaningful ones.

"I'm so happy to be home," Megan, a lifelong Houstonian, told the crowd on June 14, night one of the back-to-back shows. After honing her rap skills and launching her career in H-Town, the star expressed her gratitude for the support her Houston fans have shown her from the start. 

"Hotties, y'all know what we've been through, y'all been rocking with me since day motherf—in' one," she gushed on night one. "I love y'all, I appreciate y'all, I respect y'all and I'm very grateful for y'all because, without the Hotties, there would be no motherf—in' Hot Girl Coach."

The two-night stint highlighted Megan's vulnerability, drive and exceptional showmanship. But above all else, her hometown shows reminded fans that she's just a strong-kneed, animé-loving girl from Houston. 

Below, check out five of the most memorable moments from Megan Thee Stallion's Houston homecoming.

She Organized A Hottie Egg Hunt

Before stepping on stage on June 14, Megan sent Houston fans on a Hottie Egg Hunt for a chance to win merchandise and tickets to the show that night. The three-part interactive adventure featured clues, documented on Instagram and X, that helped fans locate the golden eggs. 

The first clue reads, "A wild stallion can't be tamed…meet me at the place where I'm gonna rock the stage!" The second, "Where I run through the mall with your daddy." The last, "People are smart, my Hotties are smarter, find this egg where I got one degree hotter."

Eager fans scoured the whole city and eventually found the eggs at Megan’s favorite spots in Houston: Toyota Center, The Galleria and Texas Southern University. So far, Houston has been the only city Megan has done this for, making for another special moment between her and Houston hotties.

She Continued To Prove She's A Girls Girl

An unfortunate rap show trend has seen several female opening acts receive hate ahead of male headliners. Luckily this hasn't been the case for Memphis rapper GloRilla, who has noticeably been enjoying her experience as an opener on the Hot Girl Summer Tour. 

On night two in Houston, GloRilla presented Megan with a blown-up art piece commemorating her upcoming album, Megan, on stage. In return, Megan complimented the 24-year-old rapper, saying, "Glo is one of the realest women I've ever met." 

That evening, Megan showed her love for another rising star — and fellow Houston female rapper — Monaleo. The Mo City rapper sent the crowd into a frenzy as she sang her 2023 hit song "Beating Down Yo Block," which samples the classic "Knocking Pictures Off Da Wall" by Houston's Yungstar.

She Paid Homage To Houston Legends

Monaleo was far from the only Houston native to take the stage with Megan during her hometown visit. On night one, Megan surprised fans with a legendary performance from a few Houston all-stars. The room filled with excited screams as H-Town''s Bun B popped out to perform UGK's "Int'l. Players Anthem (I Choose You)." As if it couldn't get more iconic, Megan joined the legend on stage to rap Pimp C's verse of the song. 

The night also featured a legendary performance of "Southside" by Lil Keke, which Megan teased prior in the show with her "Southside Royalty Freestyle." Fans also got to enjoy Slim Thug's verse from "Still Tippin," a song he shares with Mike Jones and Paul Wall. (Wall also performed the song on Megan's tour the previous night at Austin's Moody Center.)

On night two, Megan brought out another Houston great, Z-Ro to rap a classic, "Mo City Don." Though a Hot Girl at heart, Megan couldn't help but celebrate the legendary men who paved the way and left a historic mark in Houston's dynamic hip-hop scene. 

She Showed — And Received — Hometown Love

As Megan arrived at the Toyota Center on June 14, she received a surprise welcome by students from her alma mater, the Pearland High School Band and Prancers — a heartwarming kickoff to a night of mutual love between Megan and Houston that put her in high-spirits before the show. 

Both nights were filled with an immense amount of energy and support, from Megan signing autographs throughout the show to making sure she got the perfect selfie with her beloved supporters. Even during more tender moments — like “Cobra," a song about suicide and her depression — felt particularly moving because of the interaction between Megan and her hometown fans.

She Put The "Hot" In Hottie

Taking notes from another H-Town hero and fellow Houstonian, Megan put on an impressive show reminiscent of Beyoncé, from jaw-dropping choreography to stunning wind-blown poses. Megan also tapped into her past life as a Prairie View A&M Panther Doll with majorette-inspired dancing during her song "Cognac Queen." 

Of course, she wouldn't be Thee Stallion if she didn't show off her twerking skills and famously powerful knees during her two-hour show run. Fans even got to participate in the twerk-fest during intermission, as a "Hottie Cam" panned through the audience, showing love to the girls and boys.

If her hometown shows were any indication, Megan Thee Stallion's future is not just bright — it's smoking hot as well. 

GRAMMY Rewind: Megan Thee Stallion Went From "Savage" To Speechless After Winning Best New Artist In 2021

David Bryan, Jon Bon Jovi and Tico Torres attend the UK Premiere of "Thank You and Goodnight: The Bon Jovi Story" on April 17, 2024 in London, England
David Bryan, Jon Bon Jovi and Tico Torres attend the UK Premiere of "Thank You and Goodnight: The Bon Jovi Story"

Photo: Tim P. Whitby/Getty Images for Disney+

list

10 Facts About Jon Bon Jovi: A Friendship With Springsteen, Philanthropy, Football Fanaticism & More

Ahead of the band's new album 'Forever,' out June 7, and a new Hulu documentary, "Thank you, Goodnight: The Bon Jovi Story," read on for 10 facts about the GRAMMY-winning group and its MusiCares Person Of The Year frontman.

GRAMMYs/Jun 6, 2024 - 06:55 pm

Bon Jovi have officially been in the cultural conversation for five decades — and it looks like we'll never say goodbye. 

The band's self-titled debut album was unleashed upon the world in 1984, and lead single "Runaway" made some waves. Yet the New Jersey group didn't truly break through until their third album, the 12 million-selling Slippery When Wet. By the late 1980s, they were arguably the biggest rock band in the world, selling out massive shows in arenas and stadiums. 

Since, Bon Jovi releases have consistently topped album charts (six of their studio albums hit No. 1). A big reason for their continued success is that, unlike a majority of their ‘80s peers, frontman Jon Bon Jovi made sure that they adapted to changing times while retaining the spirit of their music — from the anthemic stomp of 1986’s "Bad Medicine" to the Nashville crossover of 2005’s "Who Says You Can’t Go Home." It also doesn’t hurt that the 2024 MusiCares Person Of The Year has aged very gracefully; his winning smile and charismatic personality ever crush-worthy.

Their fifth decade rocking the planet has been marked by many other milestones: The release of  a four-part Hulu documentary, "Thank you, Goodnight: The Bon Jovi Story"; Bon Jovi's 16th studio album Forever, and fan hopes for the return of original guitarist Richie Sambora who left unexpectedly in 2013. Despite all of these positive notes, there is an ominous cloud hanging over the group as their singer had to undergo vocal surgery following disappointing, consistently off-key performances on the group's 2022 U.S. tour. Even afterward, he remains unsure whether he’ll be able to tour again. But Bon Jovi remains popular and with Sambora expressing interest in a reunion, it's plausible that we could see them back on stage again somehow.

Jon Bon Jovi has also had quite a multifaceted career spun off of his success in music, as shown by the following collection of fascinating facts.

Jon Bon Jovi Sung With Bruce Springsteen When He Was 17

By the time he was in high school, Jon Bongiovi (his original, pre-fame last name) was already fronting his first serious group. The Atlantic City Expressway was a 10-piece with a horn section that performed well-known tunes from Jersey acts like Bruce Springsteen and Southside Johnny and the Asbury Jukes.

They regularly played The Fast Lane, and one night Bruce Springsteen was in the audience. To Bon Jovi’s surprise, The Boss jumped onstage to join them. The two later became good friends — during his MusiCares performance, Bon Jovi introduced Springsteen as "my mentor, my friend, my brother, my hero."

Jon Recorded Bon Jovi’s First Hit Before The Band Formed

Although "Runaway" was the debut single and lone Top 40 hit from Bon Jovi's first two albums, it was recorded as a professional demo back in 1982. 

Bon Jovi got a gig as a gopher at Power Station, the famed studio co-owned by his second cousin Tony Bongiovi where artists like the Rolling Stones, Diana Ross, and David Bowie recorded. (He watched even watched Bowie and Freddie Mercury record the vocals for "Under Pressure.")

The future rockstar cut "Runaway" (which was co-written mainly by George Karak) and other demos with session musicians — his friend, guitarist Aldo Nova, Rick Springfield/John Waite guitarist Tim Pierce, Springsteen keyboardist Roy Bittan, bassist Hugh McDonald (a future Bon Jovi member), and Scandal drummer Frankie LaRocca. The song first appeared on a WAPP compilation under his name, but then it was placed on Bon Jovi’s debut album. When the video for "Runway" was created nearly two years later, members of Bon Jovi were miming to other people’s performances. 

Although it is a classic, original guitarist Richie Sambora hates it and never wants to play it again.

He Eloped With His High School Sweetheart In April 1989

During the band’s world tour in support of New Jersey, Bon Jovi and Dorothea Hurley spontaneously eloped in a quickie wedding in Vegas. His bandmates and management were shocked to find this out; the latter probably feared that his ineligible bachelor status would harm their popularity with their ardent female fans. But it simply played more into his more wholesome image that differed from other hard rockers of the time. 

In May 2024, Bon Jovi’s son Jake secretly married "Stranger Things" actor Millie Bobby Brown. It was like history repeating itself, except this time family was involved.

Listen: Revisit Jon Bon Jovi's Greatest Hits & Deep Cuts Ahead Of MusiCares' Person Of The Year 2024 Gala

The Bongiovi Family Is Part Of The Bon Jovi Family

Back in the ‘80s, parents often didn’t like their kids’ music. However, Bon Jovi’s parents completely supported his. Mother Carol Bongiovi often chaperoned his early days when he was an underaged kid playing local clubs and bars in New Jersey. Father Jon Sr. was the group’s hair stylist until their third album, Slippery When Wet. He created his son's signature mane

Jon’s brother Matthew started as a production assistant in the band’s organization, then worked for their management before becoming his brother’s head of security and now his tour manager. His other brother Anthony became the director of a few Bon Jovi concert films and promo clips. He’s also directed concert films for Slayer and the Goo Goo Dolls.

Bon Jovi Is A Regular In Television & Film

After writing songs for the Golden Globe-winning "Young Guns II soundtrack (released as the solo album Blaze Of Glory) and getting a cameo in the Western’s opening, Bon Jovi was bitten by the acting bug. He studied with acclaimed acting coach Harold Guskin in the early ‘90s, then appeared as the romantic interest of Elizabeth Perkins in 1995's Moonlight and Valentino.

In other movies, Bon Jovi played a bartender who’s a recovering alcoholic (Little City), an ex-con turning over a new leaf (Row Your Boat), a failed father figure (Pay It Forward), a suburban dad and pot smoker (Homegrown), and a Navy Lieutenant in WWII (U-571). The band’s revival in 2000 slowed his acting aspirations, but he appeared for 10 episodes of "Ally McBeal," playing her love interest in 2002. 

Elsewhere on the silver screen, the singer has also portrayed a vampire hunter (Vampiros: Los Muertos), a duplicitous professor (Cry Wolf), the owner of a women’s hockey team (Pucked), and a rock star willing to cancel a tour for the woman he loves (New Year’s Eve). He hasn’t acted since 2011, but who knows when he might make a guest appearance?

Jon Bon Jovi Once Co-Owned A Football Team

In 2004, Bon Jovi became one of the co-founders and co-majority owner of the Philadelphia Soul, which were part of the Arena Football League (AFL). (Sambora was a minority shareholder.) The team name emerged in a satirical scene from "It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia" during which Danny DeVito’s character tries to buy the team for a paltry sum and twice butchers the singer’s name.

Jon stuck with the team until 2009, a year after they won Arena Bowl XXII, defeating the San Jose SaberCats. He then set his eyes on a bigger prize, the Buffalo Bills, aligning himself with a group of Toronto investors in 2011. One of his biggest competitors? Donald Trump, who ran a smear campaign alleging that the famed singer would move the team to Toronto. 

In the end, neither man purchased the team as they were outbid by Terry and Kim Pegula, who still own the Bills today.

Jon & Richie Sambora Wrote Songs For Other Artists

Having cranked out massive hits with songwriter Desmond Child, Bon Jovi and Sambora decided to write or co-write songs for and with other artists. 

In 1987, they co-wrote and produced the Top 20 hit "We All Sleep Alone" with Child for Cher, and also co-wrote the Top 40 hit "Notorious" with members of Loverboy. In 1989, the duo paired up again Loverboy guitarist Paul Dean for his solo rocker "Under The Gun" and bequeathed the New Jersey outtake "Does Anybody Really Fall in Love Anymore?" (co-written with Child and Diane Warren) to Cher. 

The Bon Jovi/Sambora song "Peace In Our Time" was recorded by Russian rockers Gorky Park. In 1990, Paul Young snagged the New Jersey leftover "Now and Forever," while the duo penned "If You Were in My Shoes" with Young, though neither song was released. In 2009, Bon Jovi and Sambora were inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame for their contributions to music.

Jon Bon Jovi Once Ran His Own Record Label

For a brief time in 1991, he ran his own record label, Jambco, which was distributed through Bon Jovi’s label PolyGram Records. The only two artists he signed were Aldo Nova and Billy Falcon, a veteran singer/songwriter who became Bon Jovi's songwriting partner in the 2000s. Neither of their albums (Aldo Nova’s Blood On The Bricks and Billy Falcon’s Pretty Blue World) were big sellers, and the label folded quickly when they began losing money.

Still, the experience gave Bon Jovi the chance to learn about the music business. That experience helped after he fired original manager Doc McGhee in 1991 and took over his band’s managerial reins until 2015.

Bon Jovi's Vocal Issues Aren't New

Although Jon Bon Jovi's vocal problems have become a major issue recently, they stem back to the late 1980s. It's doubtful as to whether Jon had proper vocal training for a rock band at the start. 

The group did 15-month tours to support both the Slippery When Wet and New Jersey albums. Near the end of the grueling Slippery tour, Bon Jovi was getting steroid injections because his voice was suffering.

While his voice held up into the 2000s, it has become apparent over the last decade that his singing is rougher than it used to be. As shown in the Hulu new documentary, the singer has been struggling to maintain his voice. It’s natural for older rock singers to lose some range — it’s been very rare to hear him sing any of the high notes in "Livin’ On A Prayer" over the last 20 years — but he admitshe is unsure whether he can ever tour again, even with recent surgery.

Bon Jovi Has Been A Philanthropist For Over Three Decades

Back in the 1980s, the upbeat Bon Jovi made it clear that they were not going to be a toned-down political band. But in the ‘90s, he and the band toned down their look, evolved their sound, and offered a more mature outlook on life. 

Reflecting this evolved viewpoint,  the band started an annual tradition of playing a December concert in New Jersey to raise money for various charitable causes; the concert series began in 1991 and continued with the band or Jon solo through at least 2015. The group have played various charitable concert events over the years including the Twin Towers Relief Benefit, Live 8 in Philadelphia, and The Concert For Sandy Relief. 

By the late 2000s, Jon and Dorothea founded the JBJ Soul Kitchen to serve meals at lower costs to people who cannot afford them. COVID-19 related food shortages led the couple to found  the JBJ Soul Kitchen Food Bank. Their JBJ Soul Foundation supports affordable housing and has rebuilt and refurbished homes through organizations like Project H.O.M.E., Habitat For Humanity, and Rebuilding Together.

While he may be a superstar, Jon Bon Jovi still believes in helping others. For his considerable efforts, he was honored as the 2024 MusiCares Person Of The Year during 2024 GRAMMY Week.

Listen: Revisit Jon Bon Jovi's Greatest Hits & Deep Cuts Ahead Of MusiCares' Person Of The Year 2024 Gala

Lil Wayne performing at Roots Picnic 2024
Lil Wayne performs at Roots Picnic 2024.

Photo: Taylor Hill/Getty Images for Live Nation Urban

list

9 Lively Sets From The 2024 Roots Picnic: Jill Scott, Lil Wayne, Nas, Sexyy Red, & More

From hit-filled sets by The-Dream and Babyface to a star-studded tribute to New Orleans, the 2024 iteration of the Roots Picnic was action-packed. Check out a round-up of some of the most exciting sets here.

GRAMMYs/Jun 3, 2024 - 09:02 pm

As June kicked off over the weekend, The Roots notched another glorious celebration at West Philadelphia's Fairmount Park with the 16th annual Roots Picnic. This year's festival featured even more activations, food vendors, attendees, and lively performances.

On Saturday, June 1, the action was established from the onset. October London and Marsha Ambrosius enlivened the soul of R&B lovers, while Method Man and Redman brought out surprise guests like Chi-town spitter Common and A$AP Ferg for a showstopping outing. 

Elsewhere, rappers Smino and Sexyy Red flashed their St. Louis roots and incited fans to twerk through the aisles of the TD Pavilion. And Philly-born Jill Scott's sultry vocals made for a memorable homecoming performance during her headlining set. 

The momentum carried over to day two on Sunday, June 2, with rising stars like Shaboozey and N3WYRKLA showing the Roots Picnic crowd why their names have garnered buzz. Later in the day, rapper Wale brought his signature D.C. swag to the Presser Stage. And while Gunna's performance was shorter than planned, it still lit the fire of younger festgoers. 

Closing out the weekend was a savory tribute to New Orleans courtesy of The Roots themselves, which also starred Lil Wayne, acclaimed R&B vocalists, an illustrious jazz band, and some beloved NoLa natives. 

Read on for some of the most captivating moments and exciting sets from the 2024 Roots Picnic. 

The-Dream Serenaded On The Main Stage

The-Dream performing at Roots Picnic 2024

The-Dream | Taylor Hill/Getty Images for Live Nation Urban

After years away from the bright lights of solo stardom, The-Dream made a triumphant return to the festival stage on Saturday. The GRAMMY-winning songwriter and producer played his timeless R&B hits like "Falsetto" and "Shawty Is Da S––," reminding fans of his mesmerizing voice and renowned penmanship.

His vocals melted into the sunset overlooking Fairmount Park Saturday evening. And even in moments of audio malfunctions, he was able to conjure the greatness he's displayed as a solo act. Although, it may have looked easier than it was for the Atlanta-born musician: "Oh, y'all testing me," he said jokingly. 

The-Dream slowed it down with the moodier Love vs. Money album cut "Fancy," then dug into the pop-funk jam "Fast Car" and the bouncy "Walkin' On The Moon." He takes fans on a ride through his past sexual exploits on the classic "I Luv Your Girl," and closes on a fiery note with the "Rockin' That S—." While even he acknowledged that his set wasn't perfect, it left fans hoping to see more from the artist soon. 

Smino Rocked Out With His Philly "Kousins"

Smino performing at Roots Picnic 2024

Smino | Shaun Llewellyn

Despite somewhat of a "niche" or cult-like following, Smino galvanized music lovers from all corners to the Presser Stage. The St. Louis-bred neo-soul rapper played silky jams like "No L's" and "Pro Freak" from 2022's Luv 4 Rent, then dove into the sultry records from his earlier projects.

"Klink" set the tone for the amplified showcase, with fans dancing in their seats and through the aisles. His day-one fans — or "kousins," as he lovingly refers to them — joined him on songs like the head-bopping "Z4L," and crooned across the amphitheater on the impassioned "I Deserve." 

Under Smino's musical guidance, the crowd followed without a hitch anywhere in the performance. It further proved how magnetic the "Netflix & Dusse" artist is live, and how extensive his reach has become since his 2017 debut, blkswn.

Nas Took Fans Down Memory Lane

Nas performing at Roots Picnic 2024

Nas | Taylor Hill/Getty Images for Live Nation Urban

The New York and Philadelphia connection was undeniable Saturday, as legendary Queensbridge MC Nas forged the two distinctive cities for a performance that harnessed an "Illadelph State of Mind."

The "I Gave You Power" rapper played his first show in Philadelphia as a teenager, when he only had one verse under his belt: Main Source's 1991 song "Live at the BBQ." Back then, Nas admitted to underplaying the city's influence, but he knew then what he knows now — "I had to step my s— up." And he did.

The rapper played iconic songs like "Life's a B–" and "Represent" from his landmark debut Illmatic, which celebrated 30 years back in April. He even brought out Wu-Tang Clan's Ghostface Killah to add to the lyrical onslaught, and played records like "Oochie Wally" and "You Owe Me" to enliven his female fans.

Sexyy Red Incited A Twerk Fest

Sexyy Red performing at Roots Picnic 2024

Sexyy Red | Frankie Vergara

Hot-ticket rapper Sexyy Red arrived on the Presser Stage with a message: "Make America Sexyy Again." And as soon as Madam Sexyy arrived, she ignited a riot throughout the TD Pavilion aisles. Twerkers clung onto friends and grasped nearby railings to dance to strip club joints like "Bow Bow Bow (F My Baby Dad)" and "Hood Rats."

Red matched the energy and BPM-attuned twerks from her fans, which only intensified as her lyrics grew more explicit. Sexyy encouraged all of the antics with a middle finger to the sky, her tongue out, and her daring lyrics filling the air. Songs like "SkeeYee" and "Pound Town" added to the nonstop action, leaving fans in a hot sweat — and with their inner sexyy fully unlocked.

Jill Scott Delivered Some Homegrown Magic

Jill Scott performing at Roots Picnic 2024

Jill Scott (left) and Tierra Whack | Marcus McDonald

To close out night one, the Roots Picnic crowd congregated at the Park Stage for a glimpse of Philadelphia's native child, Jill Scott. The famed soulstress swooned with her fiery voice and neo-soul classics like "A Long Walk" and "The Way." Fans swayed their hips and sang to the night sky as Scott sprinkled her musical magic.

Scott, wrapped up in warm, sapphire-toned garments, was welcomed to the stage by Philadelphia Mayor Cherelle L. Parker. The newly elected official rallied the audience for a "Philly nostalgic" evening, and the GRAMMY-winning icon delivered a soaring performance that mirrored her vocal hero, Kathleen Battle. "Philadelphia, you have all of my love," Scott gushed. "I'm meant to be here tonight at this Roots Picnic."

"Jilly from Philly" invited some of the city's finest MCs to the stage for the jam session. Black Thought rapped along her side for The Roots' "You Got Me," and Tierra Whack stepped in for the premiere of her and Scott's unreleased rap song, a booming ode to North Philly. 

Fantasia & Tasha Cobbs Leonard Brought Electrifying Energy

Fantasia performing at Roots Picnic 2024

Fantasia | Taylor Hill/Getty Images for Live Nation Urban

Led by the musical maestro Adam Blackstone, singers Tasha Cobbs Leonard and Fantasia set the warmness of Sunday service and their Southern flare with a "Legacy Experience." And as the title of the performance suggests, their fiery passion was a thread of musical mastery.

As fans danced across the lawn, it was just as much a moment of worship as it was a soulful jam — and only the dynamic voices of the two Southern acts could do the job. "Aren't y'all glad I took y'all there this Sunday," Blackstone said.

The sanctity of Tasha Cobbs Leonard's vocals was most potent on "Put A Praise On It," and Fantasia's power brought the house down even further with classics like "Free Yourself" and "When I See U."

"I wasn't supposed to come up here and cut. I'm trying to be cute," Fantasia joked after removing her shoes on stage. The North Carolina native's lips quivered and her hands shook in excitement, as she continued to uplift the audience — fittingly closing with a roaring rendition of Tina Turner's "Proud Mary."

Babyface Reminded Of His Icon Status

Babyface performing at Roots Picnic 2024

Babyface | Marcus McDonald

There are few artists who could dedicate a full set to their own records, or the hits they've penned for other musicians. And if you don't know how special that is, Babyface won't hesitate to remind you. "I wrote this back in 1987," he said before singing the Whispers' "Rock Steady."

Throughout the legendary R&B singer's 45-minute set, he switched between his timeless records like "Every Time I Close My Eyes" and "Keeps on Fallin'," and those shared by the very artists he's inspired — among them, Bobby Brown's "Don't Be Cruel" and "Every Little Step," 

Fans across several generations gathered to enjoy the classic jams. There was a look of awe in their eyes, as they marveled at the work and memories Babyface has created over more than four decades. 

André 3000 Offered Layers Of Creativity

Andre 3000 performing at Roots Picnic 2024

André 3000 | Marcus McDonald

Speculation over what André 3000 would bring to his Sunday night set was the buzz all weekend. Fans weren't sure if they were going to hear the "old André," or the one blowing grandiose tones from a flute on his solo debut, 2023's New Blue Sun.

The former Outkast musician went for the latter, and while some fans were dismayed by the lack of bars, hundreds stayed for the highly rhythmic set. "Welcome to New Blue Sun live," André said. The majestic chimes and flowy notes of his performance reflect a new creative outlook, and as the performance went on, there was a cloud of coolness that loomed over the amphitheater.

His artistic approach is new to many fans, but he never stopped showcasing the personality they have grown to love. After delivering a message in an indistinguishable language, he panned to the crowd with a look of deep thought and said, "I just want y'all to know, I made all that s— up." It's the kind of humor fans have admired from him for decades, and moments like those are one of many reasons they stayed to watch the nuances of the MC's set.

Lil Wayne & The Roots Gave New Orleans Its Magnolias

Trombone Shorty and Black Thought at Roots Picnic 2024

Trombone Shorty (left) and Black Thought | Taylor Hill/Getty Images for Live Nation Urban

The sound of jazz trombones and the gleam of Mardi Gras colors transported West Philly to the bustling streets of New Orleans for the closing set of Roots Picnic 2024. The ode to the Big Easy featured natives like Lloyd, PJ Morton and the marvelous Trombone Shorty, all of whom helped deliver a celebratory tribute that matched the city's vibrance.

Lloyd floated to the stage singing The Roots' "Break You Off," and delved into his own catalog with "Get It Shawty" and "You." Morton soon followed with a soulful run of his R&B records, including "The Sweetest Thing" and "Please Be Good."

With anticipation on full tilt, Black Thought welcomed the festival closer to the stage with a message: "It's only right if Philly pays homage to New Orleans that we bring out Lil Wayne." And right on cue, Wayne drew a wave of cheers as he began "Mr. Carter."

Wayne strung together his biggest Billboard-charting and street hits, including "Uproar," "Hustler's Muzik" and "Fireman." The performance was a rousing cap-off to the weekend — and it clearly meant a lot to the rapper to rep his city in such grand fashion.

"This is a dream come true," Wayne said. "It's a motherf–ing honor."

11 New Music Festivals To Attend In 2024: No Values, We Belong Here & More

Photo of Sexyy Red performing onstage during at the 2024 Rolling Loud Festival in Los Angeles. She is wearing a blue bikini top with white stars, red and white shorts, white sunglasses, and bright red hair.
Sexyy Red performs onstage at the 2024 Rolling Loud Festival in Los Angeles

Photo: Scott Dudelson/Getty Images

list

New Music Friday: Listen To New Albums & Songs From Sexyy Red, Charlie Puth, Vince Staples, Aaron Carter & More

Don't slide into your Memorial Day weekend without stocking your New Music Friday playlist with fresh tunes. Here are new albums and songs from Trueno, Shenseea, DIIV, and many more.

GRAMMYs/May 24, 2024 - 02:11 pm

Memorial Day weekend is upon us, which means we're inching closer to another music-filled summer. Less than halfway through 2024, we've received a veritable bounty of new music from Green Day, Taylor Swift, Billie Eilish, Kacey Musgraves, Zayn … the list goes on and on.

Clearly, no matter which musical world you inhabit, 2024 has had something for you — and the slate of today's releases continues that streak. Pull up your favorite streaming service — or dust off your record player — and check out this slate of new music that's fresh out of the oven.

Sexyy Red — In Sexyy We Trust

The #MakeAmericaSexyyAgain train is unstoppable. Amid numberless recent accolades — including five nominations at the 2024 BET Awards, including Best Female Hip Hop Artist and Best New Artist — Sexyy Red has dropped a new EP, In Sexyy We Trust. By the sound of "Awesome Jawsome," we all live in Sexyy's lascivious, irresistible universe: "Give me that awesome jawsome, suck it, baby, use your teeth / Shake your dreads between my legs, do it for a G." (Take that under advisement.) And with more than 8.3 million YouTube views for her "Get it Sexyy" music video, legions are clamoring for her second official release without a doubt.

Charlie Puth — "Hero"

"You smokеd, then ate seven bars of chocolate / We declared Charlie Puth should be a bigger artist." So recounted the one and only Taylor Swift in the title track to her new album, The Tortured Poets Department, which rocketed Puth's name even further into the public consciousness. This shine partly inspired Puth to release "Hero": "I want to thank @taylorswift for letting me know musically that I just couldn't keep this on my hard drive any longer," he stated on Instagram. "It's one of the hardest songs I've ever had to write, but I wrote it in hopes that you've gone through something similar in your life, and that it can fill in the BLANK for you like it did for me," he continued. Leave it to a hero to shake that loose for Puth.

Vince Staples — Dark Times

If you're currently rounding a difficult corner in your life, Vince Staples' latest album is a trusty companion. Take the first single "Shame on the Devil," where he licks his wounds amid thick isolation and friction with loved ones. "It's me mastering some things I've tried before that I wasn't great at in the beginning," he said in a statement. "It's a testament to musical growth, song structure — all the good stuff." By the sound of this haunted yet resolute single, Dark Times could materialize as Staples' most realized album to date — and most hard-won victory to boot.

Aaron Carter — The Recovery Album

By all means, we should have Aaron Carter alive, healthy and, yes, recovered. But the beloved singer unexpectedly died in November 2022. (He accidentally drowned in his bathtub after taking sedatives and inhaling a spray cleaner.) Still, the 2000s-era teen star, who gave us "I Want Candy," "Aaron's Party (Come Get It)" and "That's How I Beat Shaq," left us with a poignant, posthumous statement in The Recovery Album: "Tomorrow is a new day / Tryin' to shake the pain away / 'Cause I'm still in recovery," he sings in the title track. Carter, who was open about his struggles with addiction, substance abuse and mental health, is also in the news for a rough ride of a documentary, Fallen Idols: Nick and Aaron Carter. But if you'd rather focus on Carter the artist, The Recovery Album shows that his considerable talent remains undimmed.

DIIV — Frog in Boiling Water

The idiom of a frog in boiling water is a familiar one, but it's never quite unfolded in music like this — and DIIV, one of rock's most impressionistic acts, is the band for the job. In a press statement, the group, led by Zachary Cole Smith, called Frog in Boiling Water a reflection of "a slow, sick, and overwhelmingly banal collapse of society under end-stage capitalism." To wit, tracks like "Brown Paper Bag," "Raining on Your Pillow" and "Soul-net" sound like dying in a beautiful way. "Everyone Out," another album highlight, provides a clear, critical directive.

Shenseea — Never Gets Late Here

To hear Jamaican leading light Shenseea tell it, she's been boxed in as a "dancehall artiste," but she's so much more than that. "By next year I want to be international," she said back in 2018. "An international pop star." Her second album, Never Gets Late Here, might be that final boost to the big time she's chasin. Throughout the sticky-sweet album, the genre traverser tries on disco vibes ("Flava" with Voi Leray), an Afrobeats tint ("Work Me Out" with Wizkid), and a bona fide, swing-for-the-rafters anthem in the power ballad "Stars." "Everyone is looking at everything I'm going through," she recently told Revolt, "which is special because they can see the fight I'm getting, but still see me pushing and persevering."

Trueno — EL ÚLTIMO BAILE

Argentine phenom Trueno — a rapper, singer and songwriter of equal fire — has been on a sharp rise ever since his debut, 2020's Atrevido. This time, he's especially leaning into his rap skills as he pays homage to his beloved hip-hop. And, as he explained to Rolling Stone, he's been diligently crafting this artistic culmination. "We also don't want to rush anything. We're working day and night on it," he said of EL ÚLTIMO BAILE. "I'm an artist who's all about albums and big projects, so I'm immersed in this." We're about to be, too.

Yola — My Way

Yola has been nominated for six GRAMMYs to date; this impressive feat has thickened the momentum behind her latest batch of music. For her new My Way EP, the British singer/songwriter tapped GRAMMY-nominated producer Sean Douglas, who's worked with everyone from Lizzo to Madonna to Sia. Not that this synthesist of progressive R&B, synth pop, electronica, and more needs a reintroduction. But if you're not already on board with this musically keen, lyrically conscious artist, songs like "Future Enemies" should lure you there.

2025 GRAMMYs To Take Place Sunday, Feb. 2, Live In Los Angeles; GRAMMY Awards Nominations To Be Announced Friday, Nov. 8, 2024