He’s the rock powerhouse who came back to walk the streets right after Superstorm Sandy.
He’s also the hometown hero who knew the test would be, Do you come when the spotlight moves on?
“Anyone that was really involved knew that this wasn’t a Band-Aid and it wasn’t going to be fixed overnight,” Jon Bon Jovi told ABC News. “And after the television cameras went away, those houses still weren’t rebuilt.”
Bon Jovi, 51, went to his hometown of Sayreville, N.J., on Monday to donate $1 million to the state for Sandy recovery.
“My being here is not political, it’s emotional because I grew up here, I went to school here, I met my wife here,” he said in Sayreville on Monday.
Just an all-American kid on an all-American street, his parents were both Marines. He sat in his upstairs bedroom and wrote songs that he played during early gigs.
Bon Jovi did whatever it took, including sweeping floors at the record studio until they let him launch a song called “Runaway.”
“I’m always intrigued when people ask me, ‘Why do I do it?’” he told ABC News. “I do it because that’s what I do. I was never motivated by money or fame. I love to perform and I love to write songs. And that’s what I’m blessed enough to do. Anyone who has a job that they love to do, that’s the fulfillment of life, isn’t it? And I love my job.”
But in the music world, this job has become a career that is a model of hard work and confidence. He is still married to the girl in his high school history class, and they have four children together.
“I don’t think that there’s a formula,” he said. “But I do think that remaining true to who and what you are as a person, not playing up to what’s fashionable, what fads are in this year and not jumping on anyone else’s bandwagon.”
Even though his all-American home is a little bigger now, the message is the same: passion and stamina.
“I like to share the messages of optimism and hope and that underdog kinda feeling that we have always seemed to have felt and felt a part of,” he said. “That message is both timeless and classic. And it’s universal in its appeal.
“There’s a lot of stuff that goes into going out there and doing it. It’s somewhere between a prize fighter and an army general. And you have to close your eyes and just pretend you’re singing in the shower. It’s really, it’s not an intimidation. It’s just the calm reserve, the excitement about it. You know, this is what you do and how you do it.”
Even though Bon Jovi circles the globe on world tours, he’s never far from home. No matter where he goes, he always remembers that New Jersey gave him all he has.
“Being able to love what I love to do and when I love to love what I do, it’s like my plan comes together. People get the lyric and ya hit the high notes,” he said. “And you know, the kids are happy and you’re happy and the band are happy and the crowd had a good time. And you know, that’s a good day. That’s a good day. You have to remember those because, you know, it’s not every day.”
ABC News’ Rachel Humphries contributed to this report.