Don't Expect Bon Jovi to Reunite with Richie Sambora

The bandleader says, "I've spoken to him twice in the last 11 years"

Photo courtesy of Disney+

BY Calum SlingerlandPublished May 27, 2024

In conversation with Exclaim! last month, Jon Bon Jovi made it very clear that he and his band would not be retiring any time soon — but don't expect a reunion with lead guitarist Richie Sambora to factor into the outfit's future.

Speaking with Classic Rock magazine following recent documentary Thank You, Goodnight: The Bon Jovi Story, and ahead of forthcoming new album Forever, the bandleader revealed that he's only spoken to Sambora twice since the guitarist left Bon Jovi ahead of a 2013 concert in Calgary.

"It was a shock," Bon Jovi reflected of Sambora's sudden departure. "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, [2013 album What About Now] is gonna come in at No. 1, see you up there.'

"[Sambora] 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.'"

Sambora has previously said that his exit from Bon Jovi was in order to spend more time with family, though Classic Rock writes that the guitarist felt the band were getting "stale" — which the frontman refutes.

"I didn't think so, and the collective, we didn't think so," Bon Jovi told Classic Rock. "I personally thought that everything was going incredibly fucking well. And it was never brought up in the room, or in the writing, or in the recording, or during the first 20 shows of that tour."

"I've talked to him twice," Bon Jovi shared of his present relationship with Sambora. "He. Quit. The. Band. I swear to Christ there was never a fight, nothing… He wasn't kicked out, he quit. And he hasn't made any great overtures about coming back."

Since leaving Bon Jovi, Sambora has reunited with the group upon their 2018 induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Speaking with People last year to celebrate his former band's 40th anniversary, Sambora shared that a reunion "definitely could happen." In March of this year, Jon Bon Jovi shared that "the door would always be open" for the lead guitarist to return, noting how "there was no animosity, there's nothing but love." 

However, a source close to Sambora told People last month, "Richie flew out to see Jon and brought him a birthday present — a really nice guitar — but they screened Jon's documentary instead. Richie left after the third episode because he was sick and tired of what he was seeing."

The source added: "[Sambora] didn't like the way he was being cast. He disagrees with how they framed his departure from the band and to him, the currency of happiness is more important than the currency of money."

In Thank You, Goodnight, Sambora says of his 2013 departure [via People], "I don't regret leaving the situation, but I regret how I did it. So I want to apologize fully right now to the fans, especially, and also to the guys because my feet and my spirit were just not letting me walk out the door."

Read Exclaim!'s interview with Jon Bon Jovi, ahead of reading our review of Thank You, Goodnight: The Bon Jovi Story.

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