born on 11/7/1959 in Woodbridge, NJ, United States
Richard Stephen Maboza "Richie" Sambora (born July 11, 1959) is an American rock guitarist, singer, songwriter and producer, best known as the lead guitarist of the rock band Bon Jovi for 30 years. Sambora and lead singer Jon Bon Jovi formed the main songwriting unit for the band. He has also released three solo albums: Stranger in This Town in 1991, Undiscovered Soul in 1998, and Aftermath of the Lowdown released in September 2012.
Richard Stephen Sambora was born on July 11, 1959 in Perth Amboy, New Jersey, the son of Joan (née Sienila), a secretary, and Adam C. Sambora, a factory foreman. Sambora is of Polish descent and was raised Catholic. He grew up in Woodbridge Township, New Jersey and attended Woodbridge High School there, graduating in 1977. He played basketball in high school, where as a sophomore, his Woodbridge High team won the 1975 Group 4 State title.
Sambora's first instrument was the accordion which he began to play at the age of 6. He began playing the guitar at the age of 12 following the death of Jimi Hendrix in 1970. From his early days, Sambora was strongly influenced by blues and 1960s rock and roll. His most important influences were The Beatles, Eric Clapton, Jimi Hendrix, Jeff Beck, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Johnny Winter, Jimmy Page, Joe Perry, Joe Kmiecik, George Harrison, and B. B. King. He was also influenced by Spanish classical music and began a lifelong love of the Spanish guitar. Furthermore, he had stated that psychedelic soul singer Janis Joplin had a big influence on his musical style during her career in the late '60s and early '70s. Classical music directly inspired several of his songs, such as The Answer which was originally written on piano. Sambora also plays many other instruments, such as drums, bass, saxophone, piano etc. The first time he performed on stage was at a Catholic Youth Organization dance when he was a teenager.
Sambora was a guitarist for the band Message, and with that band put out an independent record, which was re-released in 1995 under the name Message, and in 2000 as Lessons. He was later in a band, Mercy, which was signed to Led Zeppelin-owned record label Swan Song Records, and then Duke Williams & the Extremes, who were signed to Capricorn Records. Sambora was also in an improvisational club band called Richie Sambora & Friends. He was part-owner of a club in New Jersey, and at age 19 owned his own independent label Dream Disc Records. Sambora's first professional tour was as an opening act for Joe Cocker in the early 1980s. Shortly before joining Bon Jovi in 1983, Sambora unsuccessfully auditioned for Kiss, to be Ace Frehley's replacement.
Bon Jovi added Sambora to replace original lead guitarist Dave Sabo. Sambora had attended a live show of Bon Jovi, and after being impressed, approached Jon Bon Jovi and told him that he thought they should work together. They immediately hit it off as friends, and Sambora was invited to a rehearsal. By the time Jon arrived, the band was sounding better than ever and Sambora was hired on the spot.
Sambora left the band prior to a concert in Calgary during 2013’s Because We Can Tour, and has not played with Bon Jovi since.
Sambora's first solo album was 1991's Stranger in This Town, a blues-influenced album that charted at #36 on the Billboard 200 and #20 on the UK Albums Chart. The lead single, "Ballad Of Youth", reached a high of #63 on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 and #59 in the UK. "One Light Burning" was released as the second single and the album titled track, "Stranger In This Town" as the third which charted at #38 on the Mainstream rock charts. Eric Clapton played the lead guitar on the promo single Mr Bluesman, backed by Sambora on acoustic guitars. He did a short US tour in support of the album, featuring Tony Levin (bass), Dave Amato (guitar), Crystal Taliefero (percussion) and Bon Jovi bandmates Tico Torres (drums) and David Bryan (keyboards). "Ballad of Youth" was released in the UK in summer 1991 and despite plugs from The Friday Rock Show on BBC Radio 1 the song barely skimmed the top 75.
Undiscovered Soul was Sambora's second solo album, released in 1998. The album was produced by Don Was. The album charted at #174 on The Billboard 200 and #24 on the UK Albums Chart. The lead single "Hard Times Come Easy" charted at #39 on the Mainstream rock chart and #37 in the UK, the second single "In It For Love" charted at #58 on the UK Singles Chart. The title track "Undiscovered Soul" and "Made in America" were also released as singles. In support of Undiscovered Soul, Sambora toured Japan, Australia and Europe in the summer of 1998. The band featured Richie Supa (guitar), Ron Wikso (drums), Kasim Sulton (bass), Tommy Mandel (keyboards), Everett Bradley (percussion; Japan only), Gioia Bruno (percussion; Australia only) and Crystal Taliefero (percussion; Europe only).
In 2001, Sambora had a single for a movie soundtrack 'On The Line' which was titled 'Take Me On'. This single was more upbeat and more of a pop song sound then what featured on the Undiscovered Soul album.
Fourteen years after his previous solo album, Sambora announced via his Twitter page that recording of Aftermath of the Lowdown had been completed with hopes that the album would be released in July 2012. Photographs were published of Sambora working in a recording studio. The new album was produced by Luke Ebbin, who produced Bon Jovi's Crush and Bounce albums. Aftermath of the Lowdown was released in September 2012. The album charted at #10 on the "Top Hard Rock Albums", #34 on the Top Independent Albums, #149 on The Billboard 200 and #35 on the UK Albums Chart.
The track "Every Road Leads Home to You" was released as a single for the album and features a music video. The song is also featured as one of the bonus tracks on Bon Jovi's 2013 album What About Now. A special edition single, "I'll Always Walk Beside You'" featuring Alicia Keys was released as the second single of the album. All the profits from the sale of the special edition single goes to the ongoing recovery efforts of The Red Cross for the devastation from Hurricane Sandy. The track "Sugar Daddy" was released as a promo single and a music video was made for the song "Taking a Chance on the Wind".
In 2013 following his departure from Bon Jovi, Sambora released the solo single "Come Back As Me".
Sambora announced in early 2015 that he is working on a new album in collaboration with fellow musician and girlfriend Orianthi. In 2016, they performed as RSO together in Australia, South America, and England, where they opened up for Bad Company. In September 2017, RSO released a five-song EP called Rise.
Sambora composed television theme songs for Entertainment Tonight and The Insider. Sambora (along with Jon Bon Jovi) is part of the Ownership Group of the Philadelphia Soul, an Arena Football League football team.
Sambora is featured on the track "Baby Rock Remix" from LL Cool J's 2008 album Exit 13.
Sambora made a guest appearance on Bo Diddley's 1996 album A Man Amongst Men, playing guitar on tracks "Can I Walk You Home" and "Oops! Bo Diddley".
In 1999, Sambora was a guest vocalist on the Stuart Smith album Stuart Smith's Heaven & Earth, performing a cover of Deep Purple song "When a Blind Man Cries". Also in 1999, Sambora played the guitar solo on the track "Why Don't You Love Me" on the album Tuesday's Child, by Canadian singer Amanda Marshall.
Sambora also played on an album called Lessons from a band called Message. The album was recorded in the early 1980s.
Sambora sang "Long Way Around" for the 1997 Steven Seagal action film Fire Down Below. The song, written by Seagal and David Pomeranz, appears in the final scene. In a 1998 interview Sambora said his version is in the film itself but a different person's performance of the song is included on the film's soundtrack album, despite Sambora's name appearing on the album credits. Sambora also recorded the song "One Last Goodbye" for movie The Banger Sisters, and covered Jimi Hendrix's "The Wind Cries Mary" for the soundtrack of 1990 comedy The Adventures of Ford Fairlane.
In 2004, Sanctuary Records released a self-titled album which had been recorded in 1978 by Shark Frenzy, documenting Sambora's first recorded material. The mix tapes had been damaged in a flood and band member Bruce Foster had remastered them for release many years later.
Sambora co-wrote several tracks and played guitar on Australian rock/pop artist Shannon Noll's third album Turn It Up. It was released in Australia in September 2007.
To coincide with his solo album Aftermath of the Lowdown, Sambora and friends performed as the house band on The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson on CBS for one week (December 3–7, 2012). Several guests sang along with the band over the week, including Craig Ferguson (singing Sugar Daddy), Denis Leary, Eddie Izzard and even Larry King sang the Late Late Show theme song.
Sambora married actress Heather Locklear in Paris on December 17, 1994. Their daughter Ava Elizabeth Sambora, was born on October 4, 1997. Locklear filed for divorce in February 2006 citing irreconcilable differences. The divorce was finalized on April 11, 2007. Nine days later, on April 20, Sambora's father, Adam, died of lung cancer. Since 2014 he has been in a relationship with fellow guitarist Orianthi. Sambora has said he is color blind to red green and brown.
On June 7, 2007, it was announced that Sambora was entering an "undisclosed rehab facility in Los Angeles" for treatment related to alcoholism. Following his release, he told an interviewer, "I was just drinking too much and I needed to get my life together. I'm still in therapy and stuff like that, but it's good. I'm great. I feel fine." In the Bon Jovi documentary "When We Were Beautiful", Sambora talks candidly about his addiction to painkillers following a slip in his bathroom. He credited his bandmates and mother with helping him through the difficult time.
On March 26, 2008, Sambora was arrested for drunk driving in Laguna Beach, California. At the time, his ten-year-old daughter and her friend were both in his Hummer. He was pulled over at 10:52pm after an officer noticed his car "weaving on the road", but was "quiet and cooperative and didn't cause any problems". At his May 2008 arraignment, he pleaded no contest "to driving with a blood alcohol level of .08 or higher", was fined $390, placed on probation for three years, and was required to attend a driver's education course.
On April 28, 2011, it was announced that Sambora had made the decision to enter rehab again. Sambora was absent from the band for thirteen shows during the Bon Jovi Live tour, and Sambora's guitar and vocal duties were handled by well-known session musician Phillip "Phil X" Xenidis during those shows. This was Sambora's second stint in rehab and was announced just a week after he finished probation for drunk driving charges. Sambora returned to join the band in June 2011 in Zagreb, Croatia, for the start of the European leg of the tour.
Public service and recognition
Over the years, Sambora has been an ardent fundraiser for many charities, such as Dream Street, the Steve Young Forever Young Foundation and Michael J. Fox's Parkinson's disease charity. He has donated money privately to various cancer charities since the death of his father, including both hospitals where his father was treated, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center and M D Anderson. Sambora's fundraising with the charity Stand Up For a Cure allowed for three mobile full service hospital units to be brought to the streets of New York, two of which were named after his parents, respectively.
In May 2004, Sambora was bestowed with an Honorary Doctorate of Letters by Kean University where he attended the awards ceremony and gave a speech of acceptance. He attended Kean University as a freshman, but dropped out to pursue a career as a professional guitarist and session musician.
Sambora and Bon Jovi were inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame on June 18, 2009.
On November 24, 2009, Sambora launched charitable effort You Can Go Home in his home town of Woodbridge Township, New Jersey, which unveiled a street renamed Richie Sambora Way. He also donated funds to renovate part of his alma mater Woodbridge High School, which opened a new weight room, the Adam Sambora Fitness Center, dedicated to Sambora's father.
Instruments and equipment
Sambora has been known to use a wide variety of equipment throughout his career. He has an extensive guitar collection, featuring more than 130 instruments.
In the 1980s, Sambora mostly played Kramer, Jackson, Charvel and Hamer superstrats as well as modified and custom Les Paul models, such as his Rod Schoepfer model. In early-mid 1987, Kramer put out a Richie Sambora signature model with three humbuckers, pointy headstock, gold hardware, star-shaped fingerboard inlays and a Floyd Rose Original locking tremolo, which quit production in 1989. Today it has been reissued by MusicYo, and is named "Jersey Star", no longer carrying Sambora's actual name. His two most notable guitars from the 'Slippery When Wet' era were his Kramer Richie Sambora signature and a custom white Jackson with gold hardware and a Floyd Rose tremolo, HSS pickup configuration,reversed Strat-like headstock and a star on the body and headstock. This guitar is featured on the videos for 'Livin' on a Prayer' and 'You Give Love a Bad Name'. Another Kramer he used during this tour in 86/87 was the 'King Of Swing' guitar. This was a one off with orange flame maple top, three humbuckers, Floyd rose, gold hardware and pointy Kramer headstock. It was damaged in a flood mid tour and was rushed to Rod Schoepfer's workshop where he replaced the neck with a left hand Kramer one with the pointy headstock reversed. It was only used on the song 'Let It Rock' live. On the video's for 'Wanted Dead or Alive' and 'Wild in the Streets', Richie can be seen using a black Kramer RS model with rosewood fretboard. It was used live sometimes on 'Raise Your Hands' at the start of the set on this tour.
In 2000, Taylor started the production of a Richie Sambora signature model, a 6-string acoustic made of koa wood, called the RSSM. Only 100 were made all in the year of 2000. All of his double neck acoustics feature a 6 string neck on top and a 12 string neck on bottom, opposite of the normal manufacturing standard.
- Stranger in This Town (1991)
- Undiscovered Soul (1998)
- Aftermath of the Lowdown (2012)
With Shark Frenzy
- Shark Frenzy (2004, Sanctuary) Volume 1 1978 with Bruce Foster and Volume 2 1980/81.
- Message (1980, unknown label)
- Message (1995, Long Island Records)
- Lessons (2000, Escape Music)
- Message Live (2006, Two Sun Songs)
- Cher (1987)
With Desmond Child
- Discipline (1991, Elektra)
With Bon Jovi
- Bon Jovi (1984)
- 7800° Fahrenheit (1985)
- Slippery When Wet (1986)
- New Jersey (1988)
- Keep the Faith (1992)
- These Days (1995)
- Crush (2000)
- Bounce (2002)
- Have a Nice Day (2005)
- Lost Highway (2007)
- The Circle (2009)
- What About Now (2013)
- Rise (2017) (EP)
- Making History (2017) (EP)
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- "Rock star Richie Sambora's return for charity campaign rocks his hometown of Woodbridge".
- Falkenstein, Michelle. "Around the Scene, a Whirl of Change", The New York Times, December 31, 2006. Accessed September 30, 2007. "Bruce Springsteen, who grew up in Freehold, served up the critically acclaimed "We Shall Overcome: The Seeger Sessions" in April, and the singer Jon Bon Jovi, who was raised in Sayreville, and his band's guitarist Richie Sambora, from Woodbridge, will be immortalized as action figures next July by McFarlane Toys, it was announced in October."
- 1977 Woodbridge (NJ) HS Yearbook Pic
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- "Richie Sambora to Serve as The Late Late Show With Craig Ferguson House Band for a Week". Retrieved November 18, 2012.
- "Craig Ferguson sings Sugar Daddy (video)". Retrieved December 9, 2012.
- "Larry King sings Ferguson's theme song with Sambora (video)". Retrieved December 9, 2012.
- "Cover Story: A Surprise Ending – Vol. 65 No. 7". February 20, 2006.
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-  Archived January 16, 2009, at the Wayback Machine.
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- "Jon Bon Jovi's Opening Act". CBS News. May 15, 2008.
- Diane Herbst. "Richie Sambora Felt Dragged Through 'Hell'".
- People Magazine article: "Richie Sambora Busted for DUI; Daughter Was in the Car".
- "Richie Sambora's DUI troubles might get worse".
- Reardanz, Karen (April 23, 2008). "Sambora Pleads Guilty To Drunk Driving". The San Francisco Chronicle.
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- entrepreneur, Jennifer Kushell Social; author; Impact, Global Workforce Evangelist Dedicated to Making an (March 28, 2008). "Life After Graduation (Even if its Been a Few Years) - Huffington Post".
- Songwriters Hall of Fame (official site)
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- "Dear Guitar Hero: Richie Sambora". guitarworld.com. 2010-11-03. Retrieved 2017-02-23.
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