Runaway

Album: Bon Jovi (1984)
Charted: 39
  • songfacts ®
  • Artistfacts ®
  • Lyrics
  • This was the first hit for Bon Jovi. Jon Bon Jovi wrote it in 1982 with early collaborator George Karak, and it gained popularity in the band's home state of New Jersey. Despite the success of this song, the band continued to struggle. They were a popular live act, but didn't make much money until they released Slippery When Wet two years later.
  • This song tells the story of a young girl who gets so little attention from her parents that she runs away from home and lives on the streets, doing what she can to survive. Jon Bon Jovi would often take a Greyhound bus from New Jersey into Manhattan, where he saw many young people trying to get away in desperation. These are the people who inspired the song.
  • Jon Bon Jovi recorded this with studio musicians because he didn't have a band yet. The song broke nationally and Jon put the band together soon after.
  • Jon Bon Jovi would often introduce this song in concert with a story about how he brought it to the Long Island radio station WAPP. His rap usually went something like this:

    It's 1983, and some young punk kid walks in a radio station. He grabs this DJ by the collar, he says, "Hey Mister, I've go the right chords, and a cool melody. What do you say to do me a favor, and in three minutes and thirty seconds, what you're going to see is a rock and roll star."

    Jon had sent the cassette of the song to every record label and manager he could think of, but he got no response. WAPP was a new station and didn't even have a receptionist, so he was able to walk in and plead his case to the DJ, Chip Hobart, and the promotion director, John Lassman. They played the song and included it on their "Homegrown" compilation album of local bands. Another radio station, WDHA in New Jersey, also put the song on their compilation album of unsigned acts, which got the band some attention. Derek Shulman, who led the prog-rock band Gentle Giant before taking a job at Mercury Records, signed the band. In a Songfacts interview, Shulman explained that it wasn't so much the music that led him to sign the band, but the "potential of marketing and promotion" - he knew these guys were driven to succeed and had a great story - on Jon Bon Jovi would tell from the stage decades later.
  • The song aged well, remaining a fan favorite and usually getting a slot on Bon Jovi's setlists. It's one of Jon Bon Jovi's favorites, as it glossy and anthemic, but also with a socially conscious message.
  • Dave "the snake" Sabo played guitar on this. He went on to be the lead guitarist for the band Skid Row.
  • In a 1986 interview with Spin magazine, Jon Bon Jovi had some harsh words for this video. He said: "I hate videos. If you wanted to torture me you'd tie me down and force me to watch our first five videos. Five times you're chump before you learn what you're doing. The first time we'd just made a record and we were all excited and some a--hole decides we're going to make a video for 'Runaway.' So instead of making it about what the song's about, he decides to put a concept to it with his little niece in it. It's the worst piece of s--t I ever saw in my life. There's a girl with like fire coming out of her eyes. They dressed the band. Richie's wearing a jumpsuit and shoes that are three sizes too big. They kept squirting us down with this greasy solution to make it look like we were sweating. We all look like assholes."
  • A live version was used as the B-side of "Lay Your Hands On Me" in 1989.
  • Before performing this in 2003, Jon Bon Jovi introduced it by saying, "If you see this song down at the beach, buy it a drink - it's finally old enough."
  • Session musician Hugh McDonald played bass on this song. He played on Bon Jovi's early albums and replaced Alec John Such as Bon Jovi's bass player in 1994, although he is not considered an official member of the band. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Lee-Ann - Perth, Australia
Please sign in or register to post comments.

Comments: 7

  • Frank from Haverstraw, NyUm, this song was totally stolen. Bon Jovi is a spoiled hack at the best.
  • Brian from Clearlake, CaGeorge in Benicia: my grandma was the manager of Tia Teresa at the time and a lot of my family worked at the restaurant. I've been told by my mom that my grandma was asked to stay late and feed JBJ and crew and they all ended up partying there and the bar that night, or something to that effect.
  • Deethewriter from Saint Petersburg, Russia FederationBon Jovi visited the local radio station WAPP 103.5FM "The Apple" in Lake Success, New York. He spoke directly to the promotion director John Lassman, who accepted the song "Runaway" for inclusion on the station's compilation album of local homegrown talent. Bon Jovi was initially reluctant but eventually gave them the song on which Bon Jovi had used studio musicians to play on the track "Runaway". The studio musicians who helped record "Runaway" – known as The All Star Review – were guitarist Tim Pierce, keyboardist Roy Bittan, drummer Frankie LaRocka, and bassist Hugh McDonald. The song began to get airplay in the New York area, then other sister stations in major markets picked up the song. In March 1983 Bon Jovi called David Bryan, who in turn called bassist Alec John Such (b. Alec John Such, November 14, 1952, Yonkers, New York, USA) ex-Phantom's Opera and an experienced drummer named Tico Torres.
  • George from Benicia, CaBon Jovi did not film "Runaway" in Benicia. In fact, the video they filmed in Benicia, California is, "She Don't Know Me." It was filmed at a popular bar in town known as "The Brewery, which shared an address with the restaurant, "Tia Teresa." Many did not know who the band Bon Jovi was at the time, but the people in town who did know of them, were all down there -- me being one of them and I was fortunate enough to mean Jon and have a drink with him. If you watch the video, there is not an audience filled with people who were added as extras - that info is false. Besides the band and the main girl in the video, there are only a couple other guys in the video. I wouldn't say Benicians love Bon Jovi because of the video, but I would say that Benicians love Bon Jovi because they love their music. Now to correct the info about "Runaway." It was filmed in New York City at a Union Square-area restaurant and at Silvercup Studios in Queens. Hope this clears up any confusion about these two videos.
  • Steve from Sioux Falls, SdHow is it possible that you bump Aldo Nova for Dave Sabo? You people ought to be ashamed of yourselves....
  • Nishit from Mumbai, --One of his most underrated songs IMO
  • Con Queso from Las Vegas, NvBon Jovi made the video in a small California town called Benicia. The video was filmed in a bar that no longer exists. The audience was filled with people from town who were added as extras. There is a guy named Michael Jordan in the crowd. Benicia loves Bon Jovi because of the video.
see more comments

Gary Louris of The JayhawksSongwriter Interviews

The Jayhawks' song "Big Star" has special meaning to Gary, who explains how longevity and inspiration have trumped adulation.

Gentle GiantSongwriter Interviews

If counterpoint and polyrhythms are your thing, you might love these guys. Even by Progressive Rock standards, they were one of the most intricate bands of the '70s. Then their lead singer gave us Bon Jovi.

Classic MetalFact or Fiction

Ozzy, Guns N' Roses, Judas Priest and even Michael Bolton show up in this Classic Metal quiz.

N.W.A vs. the WorldSong Writing

How the American gangsta rappers made history by getting banned in the UK.

Chad Channing (Nirvana, Before Cars)Songwriter Interviews

Chad tells tales from his time as drummer for Nirvana, and talks about his group Before Cars.

Meshell NdegeocelloSongwriter Interviews

Meshell Ndegeocello talks about recording "Wild Night" with John Mellencamp, and explains why she shied away from the spotlight.