Thirty years ago today, Bon Jovi released its debut album, a self-titled assortment of floppy-haired Springsteen riffs, with a hit single so goofy and iconic you'll recognize it instantly even in your hair metal-proof cubicle.
So we tracked down the guy you can thank (or blame) for the song that launched Bon Jovi to three decades of megastardom, a songwriter who has neither seen a million faces nor rocked pretty much any of them.
No, not Desmond Child. Meet George Karak, the local songwriter whose penning of "Runaway" with Jon Bon Jovi lifted him out of New Jersey obscurity, where he happily returned shortly after to compose material for the likes of country singer Jason Aldean and Lou Reed bassist Fernando Saunders. Reached by phone at his home in the Garden State, Karak explained how he accidentally jumpstarted the world's longest-serving purveyors of stadium-ready pop metal.
"I was playing at a club called the Fast Lane in Asbury Park, and Jon [then John Francis Bongiovi, Jr] played on and off there also," Karak said. "I think I was opening up for [1970s and '80s rock band] Mink DeVille, and Jon was in the audience. He walked up to me after the set and basically said, 'I really like the way you write original music. Do you want to write some songs together?' I said, 'Sure, why not?'"