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'Dreams' come true: Bon Jovi guitarist plays his idol on TV 3 December 2003
Richie article at


Inside the re-created "American Bandstand" sets of NBC's 1960s Sunday-night drama, "American Dreams," the atmosphere is rockin'.

With shaggy hair, a Nehru jacket, pegged pants and Beatle boots, Richie Sambora -- a 44-year-old New Jersey native and founding member of the rock band Bon Jovi -- is standing in for 19-year-old Eric Clapton to perform "For Your Love," recorded during Clapton's year-and-a-half stint with the Yardbirds. The segment appears in Sunday's episode, called "The Long Goodbye" (7 p.m. WDSU-Channel 6).

Despite the age gap, executive producer Jonathan Prince doesn't see a problem. He says, "The leap you take, is that Richie is somebody of the era in the way he looks, and of the era in the way he plays the guitar."

Currently in its second season, "American Dreams" focuses on Meg (Brittany Snow), a Philadelphia teen who, along with best pal Roxanne (Vanessa Lengies), dances on Dick Clark's "American Bandstand." The show combines black-and-white footage of Clark's original introductions with performances by contemporary artists posing as '60s musicians.

"The great thing about walking onto the 'Bandstand' set, is you look at the audience, and it's like you're in a time warp," Sambora says. "It's like you just woke up in 1965."

Looking at ease behind a vintage guitar, Sambora sings to a playback of his new version of the tune. "It's interesting, because when I recorded the track on Tuesday, we wanted to get as close to the original as we possibly could," he says. "Today, when I came in, I hadn't really listened to it. When I had to actually perform it, I didn't know if it was the original or if it was mine. That's how cool it was."

Sambora says he taught himself to play guitar by listening to records by the Beatles, the Allman Brothers, Cream and others, imagining what he would do if he were a guitar player in the studio.

Little did he know that, a couple of decades later, he would stand on stage with his teachers. "I was asked to give Eric this prestigious award, like the guitar god of all time, on 'The American Music Awards' or something like that," he recalls. "I got a chance to actually play with him.


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