The rock legend was honored by the Recording Academy's philanthropic organization for his humanitarian efforts at an event on Friday
The rock icon was honored by the Recording Academy’s philanthropic organization for his contributions to music and philanthropy on Friday. A ceremony and tribute concert was held in his honor at the Los Angeles Convention Center ahead of Sunday's upcoming Grammy Awards.
As this year’s honoree, the Bon Jovi frontman was recognized for his efforts in founding the Jon Bon Jovi Soul Foundation to alleviate hunger and homelessness, and on the red carpet ahead of accepting his award, the musician also gave fans an exciting insight into his son Jake Bongiovi's upcoming wedding to Millie Bobby Brown.
When asked whether he would perform at the nuptials of the couple, who got engaged in April 2023, he tells PEOPLE exclusively: "Yes, definitely."
Taking to the stage to accept his award on Friday night, the rocker first paid emotional tribute to his friend, Bruce Springsteen — with whom he also performed a duet of "Who Says You Can’t Go Home" on the night — acknowledging the recent death of the "Born to Run" singer's mother.
"I want to thank my friend and my mentor Bruce Springsteen. Bruce and Pam's mom passed two days ago," Bon Jovi began. "When I first got the news, he was already on the airplane on his way here. I certainly would've understood if he'd said that he couldn't make it, but he wanted to be here tonight for MusiCares. He wanted to be here tonight for me, and I'm forever grateful to you."
He then honored another musical legend, saying, "I have to give a shout-out to a past recipient of this award, Sir Paul McCartney, but I think it's fair to say that the reason most, if not all of us, are in this room tonight, it's because of you, so thank you very much for being beautiful."
Going on to thank MusiCares for the "honor" he had received, he added that while he appreciated the applause, he felt he should be thanking others.
"Everything that I've accomplished, with or without the band, or in my philanthropic life, has had the support of my family, my friends, band mates, collaborators, and an army of willing, who've been ready to take my dreams and make them a reality," he said. The singer went on to celebrate kids who took up instruments or singing, before adding: "Music moves us. It moves us when we're happy, and it comforts us when we're sad. It brings us together, and when we may not have much else in common, there is still that common thread that is the song."
He then shared a touching anecdote about having "the opportunity to get back my first electric guitar."
"I sold it in 1979 to a kid from the neighborhood for a hundred dollars. When he sold it back to me recently, he said, 'It's where it belonged, home.' And when I took that guitar out of that cardboard case, it only had five strings on, and I still believe that the sweat marks were mine. I doubt that kid ever played it. The first thing I did was held it, cradled it really, and then I wrote a song on it," he revealed.
Going on to describe his guitar as "a best friend for life. That instrument will never let you down," the legendary frontman described his journey in the music business as "blessed," before praising the MusiCares "for helping our people, our tribe, our brothers and our sisters. Thank you all for your financial support of our industry, and thank you all for your support of MusiCares."
Finally, Bon Jovi celebrated those who had performed during the event — which along with Springsteen, included Melissa Ethridge, Jelly Roll, Lainey Wilson, Pat Monahan, Shania Twain and the Goo Goo Dolls — and ended his speech by saying, "Here's a page from my never-ending songbook in my book of dreams. Thank you."
The rocker founded JBJ Soul Foundation nearly two decades ago as a non-profit aimed at offering assistance, social services and job training opportunities to those experiencing homelessness and hunger.
Along with the organization, the rock legend founded the non-profit community restaurant JBJ Soul Kitchen in his native New Jersey, which serves both patrons paying by donation or in-need of a free meal.
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The “Livin’ On a Prayer” artist was announced as the 2024 MusiCares Person of Year in October.
At the time, the Executive Director of MusiCares Laura Segura shared a statement expressing the organization’s excitement in celebrating the musician. “His remarkable contributions to rock and roll have not only left an indelible mark on the music industry, but also in the hearts of countless fans around the world,” Segura said. “Furthermore, his long-standing commitment to serving food-insecure and unhoused individuals inspires us all. We’re looking forward to celebrating him and the many ways he has made a difference in this world.”
The one-time Grammy winner and 11-time total nominee joins an impressive list of past MusiCare Person of the Year honorees. In 2023, Motown Records founder Berry Gordy and Smokey Robinson were both awarded the title, and artists such as Aerosmith, Dolly Parton, Fleetwood Mac and Joni Mitchell, among others, have received the tribute in the past.
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