Bon Jovi Borrowed From Bruce Springsteen On Hit?


When it comes to the creation of chart-topping hits, the songwriting process can often be a complex and collaborative endeavor. While Max Martin’s name has become synonymous with contemporary pop hits, there are still legends like Desmond Child who have played a pivotal role in crafting some of rock music’s most successful songs. One band that stands prominently in Child’s discography is Bon Jovi, with whom he has shared a fruitful creative partnership. In a recent interview on the Produce Like a Pro podcast, Desmond reflected on the origins of one of Bon Jovi‘s biggest hits, “You Give Love a Bad Name,” shedding light on its evolution and his contribution to the songwriting process.

Interestingly, “You Give Love a Bad Name” had its roots in a different context before Bon Jovi transformed it into a massive success. In March of 1986, before its official release in July of the same year, the world got an early taste of the song. Desmond recalls how it all began when he approached fellow songwriter Jim Steinman regarding an upcoming Bonnie Tyler album (via Music Radar). Steinman had heard a demo of Desmond’s song called “Lovers Again” and decided to include it on Tyler’s record.

However, they needed more material for the album, leading Steinman to issue a unique challenge to Desmond: “Write me a song that has the verse like Tina Turner, the B section like The Police, and the chorus like Bruce Springsteen. Can you do that?” Undeterred, Desmond accepted the challenge and added, “One more thing – it has to have something to do with androgyny.” Thus, the stage was set for a creative endeavor that involved the amalgamation of iconic influences.

As reported by UG – Desmond rose to the challenge and penned a song titled “If You Were A Woman (And I Was A Man).” It proved to be a success in Europe, topping charts in certain territories. Unfortunately, the song failed to gain traction in the United States, leaving Desmond feeling somewhat disheartened. However, fate had something else in store for this hit chorus.

Enter Richie Sambora and Jon Bon Jovi, who breathed new life into the song during Desmond’s first meeting with the band. Armed with a title he had tucked away, “You Give Love A Bad Name,” Desmond presented it to the duo. As Jon smiled in response, he revealed that he had a song he had written called “Shot Through The Heart.” The merging of the two ideas resulted in the now-iconic opening lines: “Shot through the heart, and you’re to blame, darling, you give love a bad name.” A triple high-five with Richie Sambora sealed the deal, marking the birth of a rock anthem.

Desmond didn’t stop there. He shared another song he had written for Bonnie Tyler, emphasizing the hit potential of its chorus. Drawing inspiration from the synth-driven sounds of Bonnie Tyler’s song, as well as Michael Jackson’s “Billie Jean” and Eurythmics’ “Sweet Dreams Are Made of This,” he instructed Richie Sambora to play the guitar riff that would become synonymous with “You Give Love A Bad Name.” The song took on a new life, defying expectations and becoming a cultural phenomenon.

Decades later, amidst the global pandemic, Desmond’s influence on the music world was felt once again. Rising pop star Ava Max and her team of nine songwriters sought an interpolation license for their song “Kings & Queens.” However, Desmond recognized a connection to the original melody of “If You Were a Woman And I Was a Man.” Insisting they listen to the original, he guided them back to his earlier creation. The result was an interpolation of “If You Were a Woman And I Was a Man” in “Kings & Queens,” with Desmond’s name appearing as a co-writer.

Desmond Child’s recollections offer a fascinating glimpse into the songwriting process behind Bon Jovi’s “You Give Love a Bad Name.” From its origins as a potential Bonnie Tyler track to the serendipitous collaboration with Bon Jovi, the song has become an enduring classic. Desmond’s creativity and his ability to reinvent and repurpose his own work showcase the ever-evolving nature of music creation.