By Evan Benton, Staff Writer

Jon Bon Jovi is perhaps most responsible for ushering in the short-lived but ridiculously popular hair metal genre in the mid – late ’80s. While that may not be the greatest compliment in this day and age, it’s nevertheless a fantastic personal achievement.

Bon Jovi represented the genre with his long, teased-out hair, his pretty-boy looks, his unstoppable voice and his shameless mane of golden chest hair. He and his namesake band left Sayreville, N.J. and took the entire world by storm with their second album, 1986’s Slippery When Wet.

With “Wanted Dead or Alive,” “You Give Love A Bad Name,” and the Mason Nation’s unofficial anthem “Livin’ on a Prayer” on the record, it went diamond-certified with 12 million copies sold and to this day holds the record for number of weeks spent at #1 on the Billboard charts by a rock band.

That’s right: combined with later albums, this makes Bon Jovi one of the most successful American bands ever.

But that’s not even the most important part of Bon Jovi’s legacy.

With the winning smile and hairy man-chest of its lead singer, Bon Jovi was an MTV favorite, and each of the band’s music videos became major hits on television. The video for “I’ll Die For You” from Wet is so unapologetically ’80s that wet clumps of hair gel actually drip from the screen.

With Bon Jovi, the hair metal genre reached its apex both musically and visually, and would continue to do so until taking an unexpected leave of absence with the arrival of those buzz-killing Sasquatch rockers, the grunge bands.

But then Jon Bon Jovi came back ten years later with the album Crush, and the unfortunately successful and addictive song “It’s My Life.” He was back in the spotlight, but some very important things had changed.

His mane was gone, replaced by a bouffant. His awesome spandex pants and cut-up denim vest were ditched for a tuxedo. But worse, when scandalous pictures of his body began to appear in magazines, his chest was no longer full of manly hair. It had been rigorously waxed and tanned.

These days Bon Jovi makes his living charging his most devoted fans $300-plus for decent seats at his concerts, releasing country duets with Jennifer Nettles of Sugarland or staring in the television show Sex and the City and movies like Cry Wolf and National Lampoon’s Pucked.

In conclusion, the man who was Jon Bon Jovi — ladykiller, rock god and hairy man’s man — is no more, lost to all of us that wish it was still 1988.