Richie Sambora’s Disillusionment With Jon Bon Jovi’s Transformation

Dynamics and interpersonal relationships in a music band can change over time due to a variety of factors. As band members age and mature, their personal lives and priorities may shift, which can affect their commitment and availability for the band. For example, they may start families, pursue other career opportunities, or simply lose interest in the act. This can lead to changes in the band’s lineup, which can, in turn, affect the overall chemistry, as it did in the case of Bon Jovi.

The band’s lead guitarist and co-songwriter, Richie Sambora, left the band in 2013 after 30 years of being a member. During the first leg of Bon Jovi’s Because We Can tour, Sambora announced before a show in Calgary that he decided to leave the band without informing the rest of the band. A few years later, he revealed that he had departed because he wanted to give priority to his family.

However, as he disclosed later on, Jon Bon Jovi would want Sambora to solve his problems and stay in the band. It looks like there were also other reasons behind the guitarist’s departure from the band. In an interview with Anne Raso of JoyZine in the late 1980s, Sambora reflected on the inner dynamics of the band and how their bond strengthened over time.

The musician revealed that they didn’t exactly know how to relate to each other in their very early days. Yet, they grew as a band in time and created a unique dynamic. They started to spend more time with each other on the road and on stage, so they had a chance to know each other better musically and personally. They eventually became like a family, leading Sambora to feel a sense of belonging to the band.

The guitarist’s thoughts on being a member of Bon Jovi at the time:

“The whole thing was so new to us when we got the deal and went in to make our first record together. We really didn’t know how to relate to each other yet at that point. With time, we’ve just continued to find ourselves. Throughout, we’ve continued to grow as a band, and even now, the longer you play together and the more you play together live, you come to know each other musically and also personally.

Being in a band, it’s not enough that you just know how to play your instrument. You have to really connect with your band members. You have to become a family. That comes in time—you live together for years on the road, like we did. So it’s a lengthy process, uncovering that band identity, so that you know for yourself where the hell you’re coming from.”

Still, Sambora probably felt that this strong relationship among the band members changed over time, which bothered him. In a 2021 interview with Nile Rodgers, the musician revealed that his role in the band had been overlooked, and the Bon Jovi frontman had wanted him to stay silent, although he also contributed a lot to their creative efforts.

Here is what he said about his resentment toward Jon Bon Jovi:

“That was part of my deal, to shut the f*ck up. If I had a coffee place, the sign would say, ‘Have a hot steaming cup of shut the f*ck up.’ That would be my coffee place. And do you know what? I did, and it worked out. Because that’s what [Jon Bon Jovi] needed, for whatever reason, and I was working with him, and if he needed that kind of thing…”

Thus, it can be concluded that Richie Sambora was disappointed with Jon Bon Jovi for trying to silence him and ignore his contributions to the band. While they were like a family before, sharing a democratic environment, it changed over time, which eventually led to Sambora’s decision to leave Bon Jovi.