Bon Jovi had a big surprise in store for the graduating class of New Jersey’s Fairleigh Dickinson University on Tuesday.
The band made a surprise appearance at the school’s commencement ceremony, which was being held at the MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey.
Fairleigh Dickinson won a nationwide contest to bring the New Jersey-based band to play their graduation by generating the most interest on social media.
The contest was run by MTVU, and asked students across the country to tweet their best college moments with the hashtag #JBJReunionContest.
— Fairleigh Dickinson (@FDUWhatsNew) May 16, 2017
Jon Bon Jovi, who was born and raised in Sayreville, New Jersey, spoke to the graduates before the band performed Reunion, a song about a class gathering years later to share memories of their lives.
“Today marks the end of one chapter in your life and the start of another,” he said from a stage at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, where the band has played to sold-out crowds many times. “Enjoy the book; you’re the one writing it.
“Don’t take anything personally. Accept both praise and criticism equally, but take neither to heart. There are many surprises awaiting you on the journey.”
— Fairleigh Dickinson University (@FDUWhatsNew) May 16, 2017
Reunion was first performed by Bon Jovi in 2015 at the commencement exercises for Rutgers University, and appears on the band’s current album This House Is Not For Sale.
Most of the students did not know Bon Jovi would be appearing until they were already inside the stadium, home field for the NFL’s Jets and Giants. Although best known for ’80s-era hits like Livin’ On A Prayer, You Give Love A Bad Name and Wanted Dead Or Alive, Bon Jovi’s current album went to No. 1 on the charts and they were the top-selling live band in the U.S. for the first three months of 2017, making them popular with students whose parents watched the band on MTV decades ago.
“We are going to pop up and surprise the school that had the most votes to get us to come,” Jon Bon Jovi said on Good Morning America on Tuesday. “I can only give you a hint that it is a big locker room. I have played in many of buildings over the course of our career,” the singer teased.
The singer revealed his children, Stephanie and Jesse, were also graduating from college this week. “Daddy is going to two graduations,” he joked.
As expected, the graduating class took to social media to share some videos of the band performing:
— Jenna Keller (@JennxKell) May 16, 2017
— Aurora (@AuroraHigherED) May 16, 2017
— Megan Burrow (@MegBurrow) May 16, 2017
— Michael Izzo (@MIzzoDR) May 16, 2017
—With files from The Associated Press