Jon Bon Jovi on Buying Back His First Guitar, a Univox, After 45 Years: “It’s Where It Belongs”

Got my hands around her neck / But it’s done with respect / I’ve had a few, but no other / Has the love of my mother sings Jon Bon Jovi on “My First Guitar” from Bon Jovi‘s 16th album Forever. The story is a familiar one for Bon Jovi, one that marked a significant transition for him as a serious musician.

In 1978, just six years before the band released their self-titled debut, Bon Jovi sold his out-of-tune Univox Stratocaster clone for $100 so he could save enough to buy a real Fender guitar.

“There was a kid that I sold it to when I was a teen,” Bon Jovi tells American Songwriter. “I guess I was 17, 18, and aspiring to buy a Fender guitar. I sold him this Univox and didn’t see the guy for 45 years.”

Decades later, Bon Jovi reconnected with the original buyer through a volunteer at his JBJ Soul Kitchen, the non-profit community restaurant he founded with his wife Dorothea in 2011. “A volunteer at the Soul Kitchen somehow knew him and connected with him and told me about it, and we had him come down,” said Bon Jovi. “They said that the guy who originally bought the guitar is willing to give it back.”

Videos by American Songwriter

Jon Bon Jovi visits the Empire State Building on September 15, 2023, in New York City. (Photo by Eugene Gologursky/Getty Images for Empire State Realty Trust)

[RELATED: The Writer’s Block: Jon Bon Jovi Calls Songwriting “Emotional Overload” and Sleeps With a Notebook Beside His Bed]

Bon Jovi offered him some money and another signed guitar for the trade-off. “He said ‘It’s where it belongs,'” said Bon Jovi. “And he showed up with the same cardboard case, the same five strings—it only had five strings on it—so I got it back. And I picked it up in the rotten tuning that it barely had, and I wrote that song.”

In a recent interview with Howard Stern, Bon Jovi says that the sixth string was broken when he sold it. “I don’t think the kid ever played it,” said Bon Jovi.

The guy who returned his guitar to him was still living in his hometown, and Bon Jovi met his daughter. “I guess he stayed there throughout his life, and he became a police officer and has grown children,” shared Bon Jovi. “And this beautiful occurrence happened.”

Photo: Emma McIntyre/Getty Images for The Recording Academy

Miranda Lambert Fans Are Loving The Recreation of This 20-Year-Old Photo

Miranda Lambert Fans Are Loving Her Recreation of This Iconic 20-Year-Old “Kerosene” Photo

4 Songs for People Who Say They Don’t Like Bruce Springsteen