Photographer MARK WEISS Recalls BON JOVI’s Slippery When Wet Cover – “Mercury Destroyed Nearly 500,000 Copies”
August 24, 2018, a month ago
Rock Scene Auctions is hosting classic Bon Jovi photographs taken by photographer Mark “Weissguy” Weiss, the man that shot the album cover and toured with the band in the ‘80s.
The initial cover was taken with a model, but was changed due to company pressure.
Mark recalls putting together the cover: “The guys came home after finishing the album, and now we needed to do band photos without their cowboy look. Jon lived right across the street from the beach in Bradley Beach, New Jersey, and that seemed like as perfect a spot as any. All the guys came with their cars, motorcycles and girls. Even then, we needed a few more girls, so I walked across the street and pulled a few. We were still in need of a large pair of breasts. My assistant Danny took a walk with Tico across the street and came back with just what the doctor ordered – a hot Italian woman named Angela. Immediately, we knew this was going to be the girl for our cover. I put her front and center in the band car wash photo that was used on the inner sleeve of the final album package.
“A couple weeks after that, I did another shoot with Angela at my studio in New York. A blue background, a piece of glass, soap suds and some ice to perk things up a bit was all that was needed to do the trick. Angela put on the now dyed yellow strategically-cut t-shirt.”
Mark went on to say, “The album was done. Three-hundred-thousand copies, with Angela in her provocatively cut wet t-shirt clinging to her 34DD breasts, had already been released in Japan. Everything was ready to go in the US. But this was 1986, and the PMRC was in full swing. Record stores were telling the labels to ease up on the explicit content and imagery or they wouldn’t sell the products. Polygram knew they had a smash album on their hands, and they didn’t want to jeopardize that success. They also knew the music stood on its own, so we went back to the drawing board to come up with another cover. Mercury destroyed nearly 500,000 copies before they ever left the warehouse to be distributed in the U.S.
“Jon had issues with the Angela cover as well. Only in his mind, it was more about the color of the border around the photo than the actual photo itself.
“I asked him what we were going to do and he replied: ‘I don’t know, but this is our last chance or the album gets held up.’ Jon arrived at my studio, walked inside and didn’t even say hello. ‘Garbage bag. Spray bottle,’ was all he said. I followed orders. I propped up the black bag and sprayed it with an oil and water mixture. Then Jon wrote the words Slippery When Wet. As he was leaving he said, ‘That’s it. That’s their cover.’ He didn’t even wait to see the Polaroid. The next day I delivered the photo, and the rest is history.”