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'Everyday' People 6 October 2002
Asbury Park Press Interview

Source: Asbury Park Press

Jon Bon Jovi and Richie Sambora remember well the night they met.

They were both aspiring musicians working in an early '80s music scene dominated by cover bands. Sambora, of Woodbridge, was a local guitar hero with a band here and there, and Bon Jovi, of Sayreville, was a front man in the making.

Some of Sambora's buddies were playing with Bon Jovi and urged him to check out the singer.

"Yeah, yeah," Sambora thought at the time. "When I get around to it."

He lost that blase attitude upon seeing Bon Jovi perform. Sambora approached Bon Jovi after the gig.

"I said, 'I'm your new guitarist,' more or less," Sambora recalled.

Bon Jovi was taken aback, but also intrigued.

"We went to his mom's house and wrote two songs that made it to the first album -- I can't remember which ones at this point," Sambora said. "There was very instant chemistry. We worked well together and we both wanted to make original music."

"We found we were on the same page pretty quickly," Bon Jovi said.

Richie Sambora was in and original guitarist Dave "Snake" Sabo was out, soon to move on to New Jersey's second-most successful '80s pop-metal band, Skid Row.

"When I first met Richie in '82 or '83, anybody could play," Bon Jovi said. "I mean, cover bands were making a fortune on the circuit, so there was no shortage of guitarists who had technical skills. What put it over for me was that Richie was different -- he made his own licks -- and that was more exciting for me than finding someone who could just play by numbers."

And, as Bugs Bunny would say, that was the beginning of a bee-yoo-tiful friendship.

Twenty years later, Bon Jovi still relies on Sambora for unique twists to a song. Sambora still finds himself impressed by Bon Jovi's versatility.

"We both write music and lyrics, it's a true collaboration," Bon Jovi said. "We'll discuss, in great detail, a point of view. A lot of ideas he had I would never've had, and vice versa."

They remain close friends, as well as bandmates. Bon Jovi lives in Middletown with his wife, the former Dorothea Hurley, and their three kids. Sambora lives across the continent, outside Los Angeles, with his wife, the actress Heather Locklear, and their 5-year-old daughter. But Sambora will fly to New Jersey for a week at a time to brainstorm with Bon Jovi.

"Richie and I typically get together with two acoustic guitars and the cheapest tape recorder we can find," Bon Jovi said. "When we hand the dubs to the band, they can't even figure out what keys the songs are in because the quality of the recording is so bad, but it doesn't matter."

Sambora and Bon Jovi were together the morning of Sept. 11, 2001, after a night of songwriting at Bon Jovi's home studio. Together, they tried to get in touch with Locklear in California and, together, they saw the smoke from Manhattan drifting over to Sandy Hook.

Until then, 2001 had been a charmed year for the band. The album "Crush" had spawned Bon Jovi's biggest hit ever, "It's My Life," and the band enjoyed a massive homecoming concert at Giants Stadium in July.

When the time came for the duo to resume songwriting, they knew they faced a challenge.


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