As Sambora reunites with Bon Jovi at the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame, Martin Cooper checks out Richie’s slick and exciting style.
Bon Jovi has been around for 35 years since Jon Bon Jovi formed the band, adding Richie Sambora (guitar), David Bryan (keys), Tico Torres (drums) and Alec John Such (bass). After the first two Bon Jovi albums achieved only modest success so Jon, Richie and the boys were heading towards their potentially final chance third album before being dropped by Vertigo. So under the watchful eye of producer Bruce Fairbairn they set about giving their third album their best shot. That 1986 album Slippery When Wet went on to sell over 12 million in the US alone, and the tour that followed grossed nearly 25 million dollars and included a headline set at Monsters Of Rock, Donington. The album included Livin’ On A Prayer, which Jon had originally wanted to give away as he didn’t think it was a strong enough song for Bon Jovi to release.
More huge commercial success followed after the release of New Jersey in 1988, but after spending the best part of five years living in hotels and arenas the band needed a break. Jon and Richie recorded solo albums in the early ‘90s before reconvening for Keep The Faith in 1992. The album didn’t sell as well as the previous two, but the grunge era was dawning so five million sales and continued sold-out stadium tours were still a huge sign of success for Bon Jovi.
They have continued to play to huge crowds around the world, year after year, and also continued to release classic songs along the way, such as It’s My Life in 2000.
Richie Sambora left the band mid tour in 2012 after as Jon put it “failing to show up to work anymore”, and was replaced by session man Phil X, with the live line-up being completed by John Shanks on guitar. Bass player Hugh Macdonald had also taken over from Alec John Such in 1994, and continues as bassist to this day.
Richie’s guitar style is more influenced by Eric Clapton than Eddie Van Halen, and Clapton actually guested on Sambora’s Stranger In This Town solo album. However, with Bon Jovi’s heyday being the mid 1980s it’s no surprise that there’s plenty of guitar hero shredding on the band’s biggest songs. With that in mind the track this month features some classic E Minor Pentatonic riffs, big chords and a melodic solo that ends with a classic E Minor Pentatonic scale flourish (E-G-A-B-D) high up the fretboard.
Richie has great blues-rock feel with lovely vibrato, great picking, slinky legato, and lots of string bends, so give it all you’ve got!
Jon had originally wanted to gi ve away Livin ’ On A Prayer as he didn ’t think it was a strong eno ugh song for bon jo vi!
Richie reunited with Bon Jovi for their Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame induction