Singer Jon Bon Jovi’s mother was 83

Carol Bongiovi, the mother of Jon Bon Jovi and a familiar face to fans as the founder of the band Bon Jovi fan club, died Tuesday at the age of 83.

The death of the woman known to some fans as “Mom Jovi” came three days before her 84th birthday at Monmouth Medical Center, Long Branch, New Jersey. No cause of death was given.

“Our mother was a force to be reckoned with; her spirit and can-do attitude shaped this family,” Jon Bon Jovi said in a statement announcing the news. “She will be deeply missed.”

After decades of playing a major role in the family’s — and therefore the band’s — history, Carol Bongiovi somehow appeared in one of her son’s later music videos, as did her husband of 63 years, John Bongiovi, Sr., who survives her. For his 2021 video for “Story of Love,” the rocker sang in front of a large, black-and-white portrait of his parents in their youth, underscoring how long they’d been together — while also hinting at his own longtime bond with his high school sweetheart, Dorothea Bongiovi.

“What I got from my parents was the ability to make the dream a reality,” Bon Jovi told the Big Issue in 2020. “Even if you really weren’t good at your job, if you believed you were, you could work at it. As I got older, I realised that was a great gift that I got from my parents. They really believed in the John Kennedy mantra of going to the moon. ‘Yeah, of course you can go to the moon. Just go, Johnny.’ And off I went.”

One reason Carol stood out to the band’s fans, besides her famous support for her son’s musical endeavors, was that few rockers can tell the story of being the son of two Marines. His parents met while they were both in the Marine Corps in the 1950s and married shortly afterward.

But not many people can say they were the son of one of the first Playboy bunnies, something Carol also had on her resume, in addition to her military service. She was also a florist, before she enlisted.

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Carol Sharkey was born and raised in Erie, Pennsylvania. After she and her husband were discharged from the Marines, they moved to Sayreville, NJ, where their son Jon was born in 1962.

According to Laura Jackson’s biography of Jon Bon Jovi, Carol encouraged her son’s budding talents for performing, “standing in line with her oldest son in front of a full-length mirror (where) they had fun together watching themselves sing songs.” When he was just 7, she brought home an acoustic guitar and encouraged him to learn to play, though he didn’t take music seriously until he was a teenager.

In addition to her husband and her musician son and his wife, Carol is survived by two sons and their spouses: Anthony and Nina Yang Bongiovi of Los Angeles, and Matthew and Desiree Bongiovi of Holmdel, NJ, and eight grandchildren.

The funeral will be private. Holmdel Funeral Home, which is handling arrangements, has set up a tribute page, allowing condolence messages, at www.holmdelfuneralhome.com.

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