Jon Bon Jovi has said that the inspiration for Wanted Dead or Alive came to him one morning while he struggling to sleep on a tour bus. It occurred to him that being in a rock band was much like being an old west outlaw. As Bon Jovi described it, a rock band was “a young band of thieves, riding into town, stealing the money, the girls, and the booze before the sun came up.” I’m not sure that every rock band would agree with that description but, judging from the deathless success of this song, it worked for Bon Jovi.
(I’m also not sure how many old west outlaws came out of New Jersey.)
The video was directed by Wayne Isham and the black-and-white cinematography is courtesy of Derek M. Allen. It was shot over the course of Bon Jovi’s 1987 world tour and it features scenes that were shot at venues all over the United States. The theme of the video is that life on the road is hard and Bon Jovi works really hard. Looking at other music videos that were released around the same time as this one, I’ve noticed that hard work is a recurring theme in many of them. Bands, especially ones that were often dismissed as being “hair bands,” really wanted to make sure people knew that a tremendous amount of work into their performances.
You have to give Bon Jovi some credit. Their music not only epitomized an era but, as a band and with the exception of Richie Sambora, they’re largely stuck together and continued to rock. That’s more than you can say for Winger.