Why Jon Bon Jovi 'Wasn’t All That Impressed' with 'Livin' on a Prayer' Upon Writing It: 'I Was Wrong' (Exclusive)

The rock icon opens up to PEOPLE in this week's cover story about how he didn't initially connect with "one of the biggest songs" in Bon Jovi's catalog

<p>Paul Natkin/Getty</p> Jon Bon Jovi performs in Austin, Texas in July 1986

Paul Natkin/Getty

Jon Bon Jovi performs in Austin, Texas in July 1986

It took some time for "Livin' on a Prayer" to click with Jon Bon Jovi.

The 62-year-old rock icon is opening up in this week's PEOPLE cover story about his four-decades-long career — and recalling that he didn't initially connect with the band's chart-topping 1986 hit.

"It wasn't that I didn't want to record it, but I wasn't all that impressed on the day that we wrote it," Bon Jovi tells PEOPLE of "Livin' on a Prayer."

Related: Jon Bon Jovi Reflects on the Band's 40-Year Legacy and Roller-Coaster Journey: 'I Have Great Pride' (Exclusive)

Upon writing the song, "it was the simple chord progression, the melodies and the lyrics" at first. "But the bass line came to life in the demo studio, when we took it back to the band and worked it up," reflects the Grammy winner. "That's how it became what it is."

"We knew what we wanted, we just didn't have it, and so I was like, 'Yeah, it's good. Good day. Good day at the office,' and I was wrong," says Bon Jovi. "It's one of the biggest songs in our catalog."

Related: Jon Bon Jovi Says He's 'Been Waiting at the Door for 10 Years' to Talk to Richie Sambora About Leaving Band (Exclusive)

<p>Lester Cohen/Getty</p> Bon Jovi in Los Angeles in 1986

Lester Cohen/Getty

Bon Jovi in Los Angeles in 1986

Written by the Bon Jovi frontman, former bandmate Richie Sambora and songwriter Desmond Child, "Livin' on a Prayer" was released on the group's 1986 album Slippery When Wet, which also spawned the hits "You Give Love a Bad Name" and "Wanted Dead or Alive."

The band's story is chronicled in Thank You, Goodnight: The Bon Jovi Story, a new docuseries available now on Hulu. One episode dives into the making of "Livin' on a Prayer," detailing that Sambora and Child got on their knees and begged Bon Jovi to record the song.

Related: Jon Bon Jovi Says He & Richie Sambora Watched New Docuseries Together at His Home: 'There's Never Animosity' (Exclusive)

At the time, the vocalist thought the song would be more well-suited for a movie soundtrack, though it ended up serving as the second single from Slippery When Wet and ultimately reached No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100.

"Livin' on a Prayer" isn't the only hit Bon Jovi didn't immediately see the full potential of. He also wasn't too keen on 1994's "Always" from the Cross Road album, "which is also one of our biggest songs ever," says the performer.

Related: 'Livin' on a Prayer' Songwriter Desmond Child Shares the Stories Behind His Greatest Hits (Exclusive)

<p><a href="https://www.instagram.com/jakechessum/?hl=en" data-component="link" data-source="inlineLink" data-type="externalLink" data-ordinal="1">Jake Chessum</a></p> Jon Bon Jovi

Jake Chessum

Jon Bon Jovi

"When I'd written that, we demoed it for a movie, that I had written it for, and thought, 'Yeah, that's not very good.' Put it on the shelf, and an A&R guy, who was a friend of ours, was listening to some of those lost songs, and he said, 'You know, this is a monster hit,'" recalls Bon Jovi. "He was right."

After reflecting on their career in Thank You, Goodnight: The Bon Jovi Story, the band will release a new album, Forever, on July 7.

For more from Jon Bon Jovi, pick up the latest issue of PEOPLE, available on newsstands everywhere now.

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