Jon Bon Jovi is living the American dream -- a man from humble beginnings who has become one of the most successful musical acts of all time.
But fronting a band that has sold 100 million albums and continues to fill stadiums was no easy task; it took fierce determination.
"I was told from the time I was a young kid, 'You don't have the ability, you don't have the talent, you don't have what it takes. You don't have the strength to persevere."
The rock star life is far removed from where Bon Jovi grew up, in working class Sayreville, N.J. But he tells "20/20" that what he cares about today is the simple life, not the trappings of fame and fortune.
Biggest Success Is Family
"I don't care about material things. It never meant Jack to me. … The only thing that I guess I would treasure more than anything else is the health of my kids, then my wife, then me. In that order. Everything else I could take care of easy."
And the 44-year-old star is eager to share that message with young people. "20/20" recently arranged for Bon Jovi to talk with students at his old high school. When a student asked him to describe his biggest success, he was quick to answer: My biggest success is my wife and kids.
"I'm here. I go to bed at night, you know, with four kids laying on your head. That's a lot cooler existence than being on the cover of a goofy magazine with the latest starlet. It only plays well to selling covers of magazines. It's a pretty lonely existence. I can tell you firsthand. … Having the kids, they don't really care about chart positions. They don't care how many tickets I sold. You know, [my son] Jakey said, 'Daddy, you have the big plane?' I said, 'Yeah, Jakey, I got the big plane.' He goes, 'Well, come home!' That hit it, right on the head, didn't it?"
The life of a rock star means sometimes being an absentee father. And that's been the toughest part of the job for Bon Jovi.
"I've missed a lot of birthday parties. I've missed holidays. I've spent Christmases and Thanksgivings, and Easters … you miss that simplicity of sitting at practice with your kid because you're the one who's gotta go away for a year at a time. But again, it's not bitching, because I could be a serviceman, or I could be a traveling salesman … basically, I'm both. … I'm not complaining, but that's the truth. So there's a lot of rewards for that sacrifice, but it is what it is."
But he says it wouldn't be worth it if he couldn't keep his music relevant and new for his fans.
"If we were a nostalgia band, if it was a rehashed, retouring, what do they call it, reunion tour, I'd be gone," he said.
Watch the full interview this Friday at 10 p.m. on "20/20."