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Bon Jovi tribute act will be at Corn Palace Friday

Bed of Roses, a Bon Jovi tribute band, will perform at 8 p.m. Friday at the Corn Palace. (Publicity image)

Blame it on the love of rock ‘n’ roll — and Bon Jovi.

That’s what drives Bed of Roses, the Bon Jovi tribute act that will hit the Corn Palace stage at 8 p.m. Friday.

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Bon Jovi, the best-selling American rock band named for its front man, Jon Bon Jovi, formed in the early 1980s and rose to superstardom in the mid-’80s and ’90s with hits like “You Give Love a Bad Name,” “Livin’ on a Prayer,” “Wanted Dead or Alive,” and, of course, “Bed of Roses.”

Corn Palace Director Mark Schilling said there were about 220 tickets sold as of Tuesday afternoon.

“Ticket sales are about where we had anticipated they were going to be,” he said.

Because all tickets are general admission, Schilling said he expects many people are waiting to buy their tickets until the night of the show.

Schilling said the setup for the show will include some tables on the sides of the floor, some open room in the middle and seating in the stands. Capacity could accommodate up to 2,500 people, but Schilling said he expects a crowd of 750 to 850.

Bed of Roses lead singer Darryl Clayton, the “Jon Bon Jovi” of the group, said he has been a fan of Bon Jovi since the beginning.

“I was a Bon Jovi fan since I was 13 or 14 years old, so it was a no-brainer,” he said. “I went to a show on their very first tour.”

The 46-year-old Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, resident said the idea for the tribute band was hatched one night when he and his band had a gig opening for another Bon Jovi tribute act.

After the show, Clayton said the lead singer for that group told him he might make a better Bon Jovi.

That was about eight years ago, and for the longtime Bon Jovi admirer, it seemed like a good fit.

“Originally, I just liked the music. I was totally into all the hair bands and stuff like that,” Clayton said. “I found I could do it credibly.”

Clayton said the more he followed Bon Jovi, the more he admired his longevity and creativity.

“He’s had to reinvent himself and not fall by the wayside like many of the hair bands,” he said.

Bed of Roses manager Tanya Clayton — Darryl’s wife — said Darryl’s longstanding love of Bon Jovi adds credibility to the band’s performance.

There are a number of things the Claytons say make Bed of Roses a unique Bon Jovi tribute act — their relationship status among them.

“When I want to talk to my agent, I just roll over,” Darryl joked. Tanya added that unlike other agents, who have multiple clients, she just has one. “It keeps it intimate,” she said. “I’m working specifically for them. At the end of the day, we control our own destiny.” It also allows them greater flexibility in balancing their day jobs with their musical careers. “This is a very professional show, but we can’t do it full time,” Tanya said. “It’s all a part of it. It’s a family band.” Darryl said he suspects that’s one of the things that helps keep the show fresh and interesting for him and other band members. “It’s kind of a weekend warrior kind of thing,” he said. “We don’t play every single week, so we don’t get bored with it. It breaks it up, keeps us all hungry.” Tanya added Bed of Roses is a specialty act, and puts on a dynamic performance. “Darryl’s doing 12 costume changes in one night, so it’s hard to get bored,” she said. “It’s a pretty exciting show.” Darryl said he’s always changing the show, but one thing stays the same: 2½ hours of almost nonstop Bon Jovi. “If you’re a Bon Jovi fan, you don’t want to miss us,” he said. “It’s all killer, no filler.” The Claytons said the show incorporates the modern and classic elements of Bon Jovi.

For the first hour or so, Darryl said the band performs “Jovi 2000,” the era that brought the top-40 hit, “It’s My Life.” Then, after a 15-20 minute break, the band returns with “big hair and ’80s long coats.”

“It’s the history of Bon Jovi in one night,” Tanya said.

Part of that history, for the Claytons, includes an authentic look.

“I probably have the most extensive costuming in the entire world for a Bon Jovi tribute act,” Darryl said. “We’re the only one in the world that does both in the same night.”

It’s not a statement he makes lightly. He and Tanya said they’ve done their homework, and have a good idea of what other tribute acts have to offer. Darryl said most of his outfits are exact replicas, made for him by a seamstress in Winnipeg.

“Bon Jovi never came across as cheesy, and we didn’t want to either,” Tanya said. “You want to take the time to do it right.”

It’s also high energy. Darryl said he encourages crowd participation, and wears a wireless microphone so he can run through the crowd, interact and even bring people on stage.

“I was taught years ago, when you’re an entertainer, try to reach the back of the room and bring them in,” he said. “So that’s what I try to do every night. You’ve got to keep people interested in it.”

As the band has grown in reputation, it has even had the opportunity to meet members of Bon Jovi. Bed of Roses also has grown from traveling exclusively in Canada to the U.S. and other countries — but Friday will be its first time at the Corn Palace.

“Tanya’s been looking at that venue for a couple years now,” Darryl said. “It looks pretty cool.”