Doctor, lawyer, accountant: all jobs a typical Jewish mother would wish for her son. Rock star doesn’t come high up on the list.
However, if you’re going to be a rock star, it’s hard to imagine impressing your parents more than David Bryan, keyboardist for Bon Jovi, one of the world’s most successful rock bands, who have sold more than 100 million records since their formation in the early 1980s.
Born David Bryan Rashbaum, the 57-year-old grew up in a musical family in New Jersey: his father, Eddie Rashbaum, played the trumpet, and he soon became skilled at a variety of instruments.
There’s a surprising history to Bon Jovi: all the members of the group were delivered as babies by a Jewish doctor named Greenberg at New Jersey’s Raritan Bay Medical Center. That’s before anyone mentions the spiritually-minded songs the band has created over the years, from Livin’ On A Prayer to Hey God, and the fact that they first played Tel Aviv in 2015.
Now Bryan is about to go on a huge European stadium tour with Bon Jovi: their first UK tour in six years, which includes June performances at Wembley and at Anfield Stadium.
The multi-talented star has not only been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as a member of Bon Jovi, but is also famous for writing the successful Broadway musical Memphis, and remarkably has penned a new musical, Diana, about the late Princess of Wales.
Bryan credits his parents for playing a huge part in his successes as a rock star.
“My parents went along with it,” he says. “I never had any pushback like a lot of people with parents saying ‘don’t do that’. Once they saw I was committed and put so much energy and time into it, they were like, ‘Ok, give it a go’.”
Bryan says he believes that Jewish culture can be a big driver in why so many of the faith seek out a rock career. “There’s a lot of us,” he adds. “A lot of the piano players are Jewish because their parents made sure they had lessons. There’s that culture in your life and I think they really push for culture a lot.”
Bryan is a reform Jew, which he says has given him a strong grounding and deep principles about equality and humanity.
“The word of reform Judaism is that everybody’s somebody and nobody is better or worse than each other and we all walk down the road of life hand in hand, man, woman, child, beast,” he chimes. “We all get together. Nobody’s better. Nobody’s worse. Those principles which I was taught as a kid — that’s humanity. There are no enemies. Everybody’s a friend.”
Bryan says despite his many decades in the industry, performing and co-writing many of Bon Jovi’s hits, he still gets a huge buzz when he performs.
“When you walk out on a stage. it’s a gift, a challenge and a privilege,” he says. “Your whole life you work to be good at your instrument and get in a band and be good at writing songs and good at making records and good at playing live and it all comes together when you walk on the stage.”
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