Richie Sambora now says his role in Bon Jovi was to “shut the fuck up.”
Relations with frontman Jon Bon Jovi have reportedly improved since Sambora acrimoniously quit in 2013. Still, it’s a far cry from their close-knit early years, Sambora told host Nile Rodgers on Apple Music 1’s Deep Hidden Meaning Radio.
“We had the most heavily armed recreational vehicle. Our bus driver used to be a green beret. We had AK-47s, and pistol. … He says, ‘Hey boss, you feel like shooting some up?’” Sambora said. “We’re painting our faces, mowing down cactuses and we weren’t hurting anybody or anything. … That’s the kind of thing when you’re on tour when you’re young like that. There was times like that where the camaraderie was very, very deep.”
When Rodgers pointed out the “strange” situation where many people assumed Bon Jovi himself did “all the singing,” Sambora responded: “And all the writing. … That was part of my deal, to shut the fuck up. If I had a coffee place, the sign would say, ‘Have a hot steaming cup of shut the fuck up?’ That would be my coffee place. And you know what? Guess what? I did it. And it worked out because that’s what he needed, for whatever reason.”
Sambora also discussed Bon Jovi’s “Wanted Dead or Alive,” saying the 1987 hit was directed at a very specific demographic of would-be fans.
“I thought if the band was going to have any longevity, we needed a banner song for guys,” he said. “And I had this idea, ‘Wanted Dead or Alive.’ And I got stoned one day, and I was sitting in my mother’s basement waiting for Jon to bring me a pizza so we could get going. And I came up with that riff and I went, ‘Well, that’s pretty easy.’
“And it’s a very simple riff,” Sambora added. “It seems like it’s hard to play – it’s not hard to play at all. And it made girls able to bring their husbands and their boyfriends, [who] didn’t feel like they had to go hide someplace.”