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"Wanted Dead or Alive"
Bon Jovi Wanted US Pro.jpg
Single by Bon Jovi
from the album Slippery When Wet
B-side" Never Say Goodbye"/"I'd Die For You"
ReleasedMarch 3, 1987 (1987-03-03)
4:09 (video version)
Label Mercury
Producer(s) Bruce Fairbairn
Bon Jovi singles chronology
" Livin' on a Prayer"
"Wanted Dead or Alive"
" Never Say Goodbye"
Music video
Wanted Dead or Alive on YouTube
Alternative cover
European/Japanese Cover

"Wanted Dead or Alive" is a power ballad [4] [5] [6] [7] by American rock band Bon Jovi. It is from their 1986 album Slippery When Wet. The song was written by Jon Bon Jovi and Richie Sambora and was released on March 3, 1987, as the album's third single. During a February 20, 2008 encore performance in Detroit, Jon Bon Jovi told the crowd about running into Bob Seger at a Pistons game. As he introduced his song "Wanted Dead or Alive", he said it was inspired by Seger's " Turn the Page" hit and called the song the band's anthem. [8] The song peaked at #7 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart and #13 on the Mainstream Rock Tracks chart, making it the third single from the album to reach the Top 10 of the Hot 100. As a result, Slippery When Wet was the first glam metal album to have 3 top 10 hits on the Billboard Hot 100.

In 2001 a live version from the album One Wild Night Live 1985–2001 was released as a single featuring a promotional music video. In 2003 a new version was released on the album This Left Feels Right and this version was also released as a single with a promotional video.

Considered to be one of the band's signature songs, it is the theme song for Discovery Channel's Deadliest Catch TV show. It was also featured in the movies Harley Davidson and the Marlboro Man, Scooby Doo 2: Monsters Unleashed, and Wild Hogs. The song has been used in episodes of It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia, Supernatural, The Sopranos, Miami Vice and The Vampire Diaries.

The song was certified quadruple platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America in 2015. [9]


The song's title pays homage to Jon's admiration for Old West heroes, and how he identifies with them as being hated and loved at the same time ("wanted dead or alive", so to speak). During an interview on Inside the Actors Studio, Jon said he got the inspiration for the song early one morning when he could not sleep while riding in a tour bus. The "lifestyle of every rock band" was similar to that of outlaws in that each was, "a young band of thieves, riding into town, stealing the money, the girls, and the booze before the sun came up." [10]

Jon said during a concert in Detroit, Michigan, on February 20, 2008, that the song "absolutely positively was influenced by [Bob] Seger's ' Turn the Page.'" [11] Bon Jovi performed "Turn the Page" during a concert in Toronto, Ontario on July 21, 2010. Afterward, Jon told the audience he remembered listening to this song in 1985 while traveling on a tour bus in the midwest and telling Richie Sambora, "We got to write a song like this." The following year the duo composed "Wanted Dead or Alive".

Cash Box praised Bon Jovi's "convincing gravel-throated" vocal. [12]

Music video

The music video was directed by Wayne Isham and features footage from the band's Slippery When Wet Tour, including shots from Rochester, New York's War Memorial Auditorium; Chicago's UIC Pavilion; Rochester, Minnesota's Mayo Civic Center; Denver's McNichols Sports Arena; Pittsburgh's Fort Pitt Tunnel and skyline; Huntington, West Virginia; Oklahoma City and other venues. The video captures the life-on-the-road feeling, with several shots of the exhausted band members. [13] The audio for the video uses the short (edited) version of the song.

In Bon Jovi's Slippery When Wet Special Edition, Jon and Richie perform the acoustic version of "Wanted Dead or Alive" live, and before singing they mention they wrote the song in Richie's mother's basement a year ago (1985 or 1986) and Richie says "Mom, this is for you" and Jon thanks her by saying "Thanks for Richie's mom for not doing the laundry the day we wrote this song, it's called 'Wanted Dead or Alive'". In this version, Richie and Jon take turns singing during the second and the last verse. The guitar solo is performed on one of Sambora's trademark multi-neck 12-string Ovation guitars, rather than switching to an electric guitar for the solo and last verse of the song.


Les Claypool of Primus chose the song for the The A.V. Club column "HateSong", where musicians choose songs they dislike. Claypool, who called the song a "wretched soundscape", reflected, "Bon Jovi was actually a big influence on Primus back in the day. Basically, the influence was that we wanted to make music that was the polar opposite of Bon Jovi." [14]

Track listings

Japan 7" Single (Mercury 888 482-7) [15]
1."Wanted Dead or Alive" Jon Bon Jovi, Richie Sambora4:10
2."Shot Through the Heart"Bon Jovi, Jack Ponti4:24
Japan CD-Maxi (Mercury PPDM 1003)
1."Wanted Dead or Alive" (Single Version) Jon Bon Jovi, Richie Sambora5:11
2."Wanted Dead or Alive" (Acoustic)Bon Jovi, Sambora5:39
3."Wanted Dead or Alive" (Live)Bon Jovi, Sambora8:14
4." Edge of a Broken Heart"Bon Jovi, Sambora, Desmond Child7:25
Promo - 7" Single (Mercury 88 467-7 DJ)
1."Wanted Dead or Alive" (Long) Jon Bon Jovi, Richie Sambora5:07
2."Wanted Dead or Alive" (Short)Bon Jovi, Sambora4:10
CD Video (Mercury 422870721-2)
1." Never Say Goodbye" Jon Bon Jovi, Richie Sambora4:48
2."Wanted Dead or Alive"Bon Jovi, Sambora5:07
3."I'd Die for You"Bon Jovi, Sambora, Desmond Child4:31
4."Wanted Dead or Alive" (Acoustic)Bon Jovi, Sambora5:41
5."Wanted Dead or Alive" (Music video)Bon Jovi, Sambora4:08
CD-Single (Island Def Jam 588 718-2) [16]
1."Wanted Dead or Alive (Live)" (Recorded Live on September 20, 2000, New York City, NY) Jon Bon Jovi, Richie Sambora 
2."Thank You for Loving Me" (Recorded Live Acoustic on December 6, 2000, TMF Cafe, The Music Factory, Bussum, The Netherlands)  
Limited Edition Promo - CD-Single (Island 440 011 172-4)
1."Wanted Dead or Alive" (Live) Jon Bon Jovi, Richie Sambora3:43
2."The Distance" (Live at the Yokohama Arena, Japan, January 29th 2003)Bon Jovi, Sambora5:54



Region Certification Certified units/sales
United Kingdom ( BPI) [33] Gold 400,000double-dagger
United States ( RIAA) [9] 4× Platinum 4,000,000double-dagger

double-dagger Sales+streaming figures based on certification alone.


Publication Country Accolade Rank
The New York Times US 15 Essential Hair-Metal Videos [34] 5

See also


  1. ^ "Tom Cruise to sing Guns N' Roses, Def Leppard, Bon Jovi on 'Rock Of Ages' soundtrack". NME. 2012-05-02. Retrieved 2021-06-28.
  2. ^ "Why are Bon Jovi suddenly musical saints?". Retrieved 2021-06-29.
  3. ^ Spanos, Brittany (2016-11-11). "Readers' Poll: 10 Best Bon Jovi Songs". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 2021-06-29.
  4. ^ November 8, Amy SciarrettoPublished; 2012. "Tate Stevens Rocks Bon Jovi's 'Wanted Dead or Alive' on 'X Factor'". Taste of Country. Retrieved 2021-06-11.{{ cite web}}: CS1 maint: numeric names: authors list ( link)
  5. ^ "Tipping Cows in Fields Elysian - The Singles Jukebox - Stylus Magazine". Retrieved 2021-06-11.
  6. ^ April 27, Amy SciarrettoPublished; 2012. "Tom Cruise to Sing Def Leppard, Guns N' Roses Songs on 'Rock of Ages' Soundtrack Album". Noisecreep. Retrieved 2021-06-11.{{ cite web}}: CS1 maint: numeric names: authors list ( link)
  7. ^ May 18, Carlos RamirezPublished; 2011. "Road Songs: Top 10 Touring Tunes". Noisecreep. Retrieved 2021-06-11.{{ cite web}}: CS1 maint: numeric names: authors list ( link)
  8. ^ Graham, Adam. "Bon Jovi keeps fist pumping at Palace." Detroit News. n.p. 21 Feb. 2008. Web. 9 July 2012.
  9. ^ a b "American single certifications – Bon Jovi – Wanted Dead or Alive". Recording Industry Association of America. Retrieved March 10, 2015.
  10. ^ Inside The Actors Studio, October 2009, Part 3 of 5 on YouTube.
  11. ^ Jon Bon Jovi talks with Richie Sambora and the audience about Bob Seger on YouTube
  12. ^ "Single Releases" (PDF). Cash Box. April 11, 1987. p. 9. Retrieved 2022-08-08.
  13. ^ "Bon Jovi – Wanted Dead Or Alive". Retrieved 2010-03-02.
  14. ^ "Les Claypool on his hatred for "Wanted Dead Or Alive"". The A.V. Club. 2014-02-11. Retrieved 2022-11-06.
  15. ^ "BON JOVI - WANTED DEAD OR ALIVE (SONG)". Retrieved 2010-03-02.
  16. ^ "BON JOVI - WANTED DEAD OR ALIVE (LIVE) (SONG)". Retrieved 2010-03-02.
  17. ^ Kent, David (1993). Australian Chart Book 1970–1992 (Illustrated ed.). Sydney: Australian Chart Book. p. 41. ISBN  0-646-11917-6.
  18. ^ " Bon Jovi – Wanted Dead Or Alive" (in Dutch). Ultratop 50.
  19. ^ "Top Singles - Volume 46, No. 9, June 06 1987". RPM. Retrieved 2010-03-02.
  20. ^ " Bon Jovi – Wanted Dead Or Alive" (in German). GfK Entertainment charts.
  21. ^ "The Irish Charts". Retrieved October 26, 2012. Insert Wanted Dead or Alive in the field Search by Song Title, then press Search.
  22. ^ " Nederlandse Top 40 – Bon Jovi" (in Dutch). Dutch Top 40. Retrieved March 13, 2023.
  23. ^ " Bon Jovi – Wanted Dead Or Alive" (in Dutch). Single Top 100.
  24. ^ " Bon Jovi – Wanted Dead Or Alive". Top 40 Singles.
  25. ^ "Official Singles Chart Top 100". Official Charts Company.
  26. ^ "Bon Jovi Chart History (Hot 100)". Billboard.
  27. ^ "Bon Jovi - Mainstrean Rock". Billboard. Retrieved 2021-06-29.
  28. ^ "Bon Jovi Chart History (Digital Song Sales)". Billboard.
  29. ^ "Bon Jovi - Wanted Dead Or Alive (live)" (in German). Media Control. Archived from the original on December 7, 2014.
  30. ^ "Bon Jovi - Wanted Dead Or Alive (live)" (in Dutch). Hung Medien.
  31. ^ "Australian Music Report No 701 – 28 December 1987 > National Top 100 Singles for 1987". Kent Music Report, via Retrieved December 11, 2019.
  32. ^ "Top 100 Hits for 1987". The Longbored Surfer. Retrieved December 17, 2015.
  33. ^ "British single certifications – Bon Jovi – Wanted Dead or Alive". British Phonographic Industry. Retrieved April 16, 2021.
  34. ^ Edwards, Gavin (2020-05-05). "15 Essential Hair-Metal Videos". The New York Times. ISSN  0362-4331. Retrieved 2021-03-15.

External links