“I did what I had to do as a man for my family, and I don’t regret leaving – I regret how it happened”: Richie Sambora reflects on his departure from Bon Jovi

Richie Sambora (left) and Jon Bon Jovi perform at the 2018 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony at the Public Auditorium in Cleveland, Ohio on April 14, 2018
(Image credit: Kevin Mazur/Getty Images for The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame)

Back in 2013, Richie Sambora – in the midst of a tour, and just one month after the release of the band's What About Now album – left Bon Jovi, ending a 30-year-run with the beloved, ever-popular New Jersey band. 

The electric guitar ace served as half of the musical partnership – the other being frontman and band namesake Jon Bon Jovi – that drove the band to eye-watering commercial success during that period; five chart-topping albums, four #1 hits, and tens of millions of albums sold in total. 

So why leave? As Sambora tells Guitar Player in an exclusive new interview, it was a difficult, and deeply personal decision.

Asked what would have happened if he'd stayed with the band for the rest of their 2013 tour, Sambora said, “I wouldn’t have been able to stay. It was too much at that point. And look, don’t cry for me, Argentina, baby. I’m good. I did what I had to do as a man for my family, and I don’t regret leaving – I regret how it happened. But I had to just evaporate.

“The communication level... I might as well have been driving my head into a brick wall.”

Aside from a brief reunion performance at the band's 2018 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony, Sambora has not returned to the Bon Jovi fold. 

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Throughout his discussion with GP, Sambora was careful to note that his departure didn't stem from any dramatic, Hollywood-esque fight and subsequent firing, a point Jon Bon Jovi has echoed in recent interviews of his own. 

“He. Quit. The. Band. I swear to Christ there was never a fight, nothing…,” Bon Jovi told Classic Rock in an interview earlier this year. 

“Nobody anticipated it, no one saw it coming. I talked to him the day before, I remember it so well. It was Easter Sunday, 2013, and I was driving through the Lincoln Tunnel as I was talking to him, because I was living in New York, and I was like: ‘Yeah, I’m feeling great, the album [2013’s What About Now] is gonna come in at Number One, see you up there.’

“He said: ‘Can I stay home one more day?’ ‘Of course. You want to fly private tomorrow? Sure. Do it. I don’t care. See you up there.’ And then the next day the phone rings at three in the afternoon, and, you know… ‘I can’t go on.’”

To read the full interview with Sambora – in which the guitarist discusses his new solo material, working with Bob Rock, and that time he jammed with Eric Clapton and a number of his other blues heroes – pick up a copy of the new issue of Guitar Player at Magazines Direct

Jackson Maxwell
Associate Editor, GuitarWorld.com and GuitarPlayer.com

Jackson is an Associate Editor at GuitarWorld.com and GuitarPlayer.com. He’s been writing and editing stories about new gear, technique and guitar-driven music both old and new since 2014, and has also written extensively on the same topics for Guitar Player. Elsewhere, his album reviews and essays have appeared in Louder and Unrecorded. Though open to music of all kinds, his greatest love has always been indie, and everything that falls under its massive umbrella. To that end, you can find him on Twitter crowing about whatever great new guitar band you need to drop everything to hear right now.

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