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Jon Bon Jovi Recalls Performing in USSR to Help Ex-Manager Leave the Country After Alleged Drug Bust

"Somehow his plea bargain was to take the young, cute kid and throw him to the wolves," Bon Jovi said of performing at the Moscow Music Peace Festival in 1989

Jon Bon Jovi was "Livin' on a Prayer" that he'd be able to help keep his manager out of jail when he performed in the U.S.S.R. in the '80s.

On a recent episode of the Conan O'Brien Needs a Friend podcast, the Bon Jovi frontman, 62, reflected on how he made history by performing in Moscow in August 1989, several months before the Berlin Wall fell that November. But beyond recalling what a major moment it was to play what was called the Moscow Music Peace Festival, he opened up about how he did so as a part of a deal so his manager at the time could return to the U.S., following an alleged drug bust.

"To keep him out of jail, I had to go to the Soviet Union," the rock star said of his ex-manager, Doc McGhee, whom he says had been accused of "smuggling a lot of drugs" at the time.

"My first manager got into some trouble with the law," Jon explained. "Honest to God, he was accused of smuggling some incredible amount of tons of marijuana into America."

<p>Koh Hasebe/Shinko Music/Getty</p> Bon Jovi performing at the Moscow Music Peace Festival in August 1989 Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow

Koh Hasebe/Shinko Music/Getty

Bon Jovi performing at the Moscow Music Peace Festival in August 1989 Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow

Related: 20 Incredible Throwback Photos of Jon Bon Jovi

He continued, "Somehow his plea bargain was to take the young, cute kid and throw him to the wolves and the judge and he says, 'And I've got an idea: We’ll go to the Soviet Union and promote peace and harmony and blah blah blah. And please, your honor, don’t put me in prison.’"

"So I had to go in the snow to the Soviet Union and say, ‘We’re coming!’" the Grammy winner added. "He put a package together with some of his acts and some of his friends and we went and played. It was a crazy story. He never went to prison."

The "It's My Life" singer also emphasized on the podcast how unprecedented it was to be performing in the politically fraught U.S.S.R. in the late '80s.

“You got to remember, the Soviet Union, if you even thought of having an album as we knew it, you would be imprisoned,” he said. “There were kids that had lists on a piece of paper that were very small because if the KGB came up at that time, they would crumple and eat it.”

The rocker explained that Moscow's Luzhniki Stadium even assigned extra security to be backstage at the event because they anticipated a "riot" ensuing, were fans to have seen the catering from the Hard Rock Cafe. "Meanwhile, we're playing to this festival with these other bands and nobody gave a s--- about that because the security was truly crying when they saw the kinds of food," he said.

<p>Koh Hasebe/Shinko Music/Getty</p> Bon Jovi performing at Moscow Music Peace Festival at Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow in August 1989

Koh Hasebe/Shinko Music/Getty

Bon Jovi performing at Moscow Music Peace Festival at Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow in August 1989

Related: Jon Bon Jovi 'Still Recovering from a Major Surgery' and Unsure When He'll Tour: 'Working Towards That Goal'

Moscow Music Peace Festival was held over two days on Aug. 12-13 in 1989 and featured a lineup of bands from the Soviet Union taking the stage along with groups from the U.S. and U.K. In addition to Bon Jovi, A-listers like Mötley Crüe, Ozzy Osbourne, and Jason Bonham of Led Zeppelin also performed.

The event organized was organized by the American band manager and Russian musician Stas Namin and ended up drawing 100,000 fans to Moscow's Luzhniki Stadium. Fans around the globe also tuned into a broadcast on television.

In a 2017 interview about the concert with Rolling Stone, McGhee and his attorney Joe Cheshire opened up about the historic show being born out of the music industry professional's "marijuana conspiracy charges in several jurisdictions."

Cheshire explained that he thought to launch the Make-a-Difference Foundation, which sponsored the Moscow festival, as a means to "keep [McGhee] from serious punishment." He said, "We had to suggest to the federal courts that it would be much more profitable for society that this nonprofit foundation exist and raise money and spend money for appropriate purposes than it would be to take one human being and put him in prison. So that’s what we did."

McGhee himself added, "I heard this back then, and I heard it for years afterwards: 'I can’t believe all you have to do is a rock show and you get off.' Well, number one, I’m not sure that any court, no matter what you did, would put your probation [as], 'If you go and change the world, stop the Cold War, you get off.' OK? I don’t think anybody should make that s--- up. It had nothing to do with it whatsoever. It just happened to be the timing aspect. I was already way over all that s--- before I did Moscow."

<p>Koh Hasebe/Shinko Music/Getty</p> Richie Sambora, David Bryan, Jon Bon Jovi, Tico Torres and Alec John Such of Bon Jovi in Moscow in August 1989

Koh Hasebe/Shinko Music/Getty

Richie Sambora, David Bryan, Jon Bon Jovi, Tico Torres and Alec John Such of Bon Jovi in Moscow in August 1989

Related: Jon Bon Jovi Reveals Why He's 'Not in Contact' with Former Bandmate Richie Sambora

Bon Jovi fans will be able to learn even more history about the iconic New Jersey group in the forthcoming docuseries Thank You, Goodnight: The Bon Jovi Story. The four-part Hulu series is set to premiere on April 26, with all episodes set to hit streaming at once.

The project documents the hitmakers' rise, as well as tumultuous moments over their four-decade-spanning career, and promises to feature never-before-seen images and previously unreleased demos.

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There's also new music on the way from the "You Give Love a Bad Name" band. On June 7, Bon Jovi is set to release their 16th studio album, Forever.

Thus far, they've given fans a taste of their new music by dropping the lead single "Legendary."

When announcing the LP, the frontman shared in a statement, “This record is a return to joy. From the writing, through the recording process, this is turn up the volume, feel good Bon Jovi."

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