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Richie Sambora

Sambora in 2009
Background information
Birth name Richard Stephen Sambora
Born July 11, 1959 (1959-07-11) (age 50)
Perth Amboy, New Jersey, United States
Genres Hard rock, glam metal, heavy metal
Occupations Musician, songwriter
Instruments Guitar, Vocals, Mandolin, Sitar, Ukulele, bass, Banjo, Piano, keyboards, drums, Flute, Trumpet, Saxophone, Accordion, Bouzouki, Mandocello, Talk box
Years active 1983–present
Labels Mercury
Associated acts Bon Jovi, Message, Dean Fasano
Notable instruments
Kramer RS Signature Model
ESP SA-2 Lennox Sambora signature model
Martin signature acoustic

Richard Stephen Sambora (born July 11, 1959) is an American rock guitarist, producer, musician, singer/songwriter who is the longtime lead guitarist of the popular rock band Bon Jovi. He and frontman Jon Bon Jovi form the primary songwriting unit of the band. He is also a solo artist, having released two solo albums; Stranger in This Town in 1991, and Undiscovered Soul in 1998.


Early life and career

Born to a Polish father, Adam C. Sambora, and an Italian/Polish mother, Joan Sienila, Sambora grew up in Woodbridge, New Jersey.[1] He attended Woodbridge High School there, graduating in 1977[2]. He began playing the guitar at the age of 12 following the death of guitar legend Jimi Hendrix in 1970. From his early days Sambora was strongly influenced by blues and 60s rock 'n' roll. His most important influences were Eric Clapton, Jimi Hendrix, Jeff Beck, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Johnny Winter, Jimmy Page and the most important: Joe Perry. He was also influenced by Spanish classical music and began a life long love of the Spanish guitar. Classical music directly inspired several of his songs, such as The Answer.[3]

Sambora played guitar for Joe Cocker and auditioned for Kiss and Poison then named Paris.[4] He was also a guitarist for the band Message, and with that band he gave out a record, which was re-released in 1995 under the name "Message", and in 2000 under the name "Lessons". Bon Jovi added Sambora to replace original lead guitarist Dave Sabo.[4] Sambora went to a show and, after being impressed by Bon Jovi, approached him and informed 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 Bon Jovi arrived, the band was sounding better than ever and Sambora was hired on the spot.[5]

Sambora has occasionally taken over as lead vocalist on some Bon Jovi songs, most notably "I'll Be There for You" and "These Days" when played live on the Bounce, Have a Nice Day and Lost Highway tours. He has also performed "Stranger In This Town". One of the live performances of "Stranger In This Town", recorded during the Keep the Faith tour, was released on Bon Jovi's CD single "Dry County" in 1994.[citation needed]

Recent ventures have seen him compose television theme songs for both Entertainment Tonight and The Insider. He (along with Jon Bon Jovi) is part of the Ownership Group of the Philadelphia Soul, an Arena Football League football team.[6]

Sambora made a cameo appearance in The Sims Superstar.

Sambora is featured on the track "Baby Rock Remix", from LL Cool J's upcoming album "Exit 13".[7]

His first solo outing was Stranger in This Town in 1991, a blues-influenced album that was received well by many critics although commercially a relative flop partially due to the more adult tone of the record that was not instantly appealing to Bon Jovi fans. Eric Clapton played the lead guitar track on the song 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 Dave 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. 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).

He made a special guest appearance[8] on Bo Diddley's 1996 album A Man Amongst Men, playing guitar on the tracks "Can I Walk You Home" and "Oops! Bo Diddley".

In 1999, Sambora appeared as a guest vocalist on the Stuart Smith album Stuart Smith's Heaven & Earth, performing a cover of the Deep Purple song "When a Blind Man Cries".

Sambora played on a recently released album called Lessons from a band called Message. The album was recorded in the early 1980s.

Sambora sings "Long Way Around" (background audio) during the final scene in the 1997 Steven Seagal action movie Fire Down Below and is featured on the movie's soundtrack.

Sambora also recorded the song "One Last Goodbye" on the soundtrack for the movie The Banger Sisters. He also covered Jimi Hendrix's "The Wind Cries Mary" for the soundtrack of The Adventures of Ford Fairlane, released in 1990.

His guitar work is also featured on the track "Misery" on Pink's 2001 album Missundaztood with Steven Tyler.

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 it had taken band member Bruce Foster to remaster them for them to be released so many years later.

Sambora co-wrote several tracks and played guitar on Australian rock/pop artist Shannon Noll's third album, called Turn It Up. It was released in Australia September 15, 2007.

Instruments and equipment

Sambora with his "Sambora" guitar, July 29, 2006

Sambora has been known to use a wide variety of equipment throughout his career. He has an extensive guitar collection, featuring more than 120 instruments.

In the 80s, 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 drooped 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. He had also used several other Kramer models, including a variety of custom ones ("one-offs"). His two most notable guitars from the Slippery When Wet album/tour were his Kramer Richie Sambora signature and a custom white Jackson with gold hardware and a Floyd Rose tremolo, HSS pickup configuration and a reversed Strat-like headstock and a star on the body and headstock. There is also another of his very famous guitars from Kramer, which is a Jersey Star signature double neck used on "Lay Your Hands On Me".

During the following years Sambora played various guitars, most notably a custom black Jackson, which featured only a humbucking pickup in the bridge position, Floyd Rose tremolo system and a maple neck and fretboard with a reversed Strat-like headstock, along with vintage Fenders and Gibsons.

In 1991, Fender issued a Richie Sambora signature Stratocaster model which featured an original Floyd Rose tremolo system and an HSS combination of DiMarzio PAF Pro humbucking and 2 Fender Texas Special single-coil pickups.

This guitar came in two versions; American and later in 1996, Japanese. US-made Sambora model featured an alder body with ash veneers and was available in Cherry Sunburst and Olympic White, while the Japanese version had an alder body with black paisley graphics (ltd) and a Snow White Finish. Other features included a one-piece maple neck/fingerboard with 22 frets and star-shaped position markers, as well as a 25dB active mid-boost circuit (US version only) with TBX (US & Japanese) tone controls and an active/passive push-button switch.

In the 1995 video 'Live in London', Sambora uses a custom orange burst double neck Fender Stratocaster with traditional maple neck with star inlays, locking tremolo (on the lower neck).He uses this guitar on the song 'Lay Your Hands On Me' on the London DVD.

In 1998 the model has been updated with a vintage-style tremolo, a set of Fender Hot Noiseless single-coils, no-load tone circuit and a 12dB active mid-boost with a push-button bypass selector.

There was also a Mexican-made standard version of the instrument, featuring a DiMarzio PAF humbucking pickup in the bridge position and two standard single-coils in the neck and middle positions. The guitar also sported a rosewood fingerboard with 21 frets and white dot inlays, as well as a Floyd Rose II locking bridge. Both the US and Mexican-made Sambora models were discontinued in 2002, though now there is a Fender Standard Series Stratocaster HSS Locking Tremolo with about the same specs as Sambora's own guitar, but its only available through Guitar Center. He still plays a variety of Fenders, apparently over 40 Stratocasters (mostly vintage, American Deluxe and Custom Shop models), such as the Telecaster doubleneck used on "Have a Nice Day." Sambora also has a '59 ash-body Telecaster used for these days on the current Lost Highway tour.

Richie performing with Bon Jovi in Ireland in 2006.

In the period of 2003-2006, he played a wide variety guitars on stage, including custom "Sambora" guitars built by his guitar tech Chris "Lumpy" Hofschneider, Zemaitis Guitars, Floyd Rose guitars, Zemaitis, Ovation, Taylor and Martin guitars, vintage and Custom Shop Gibson and Fender models, as well as guitars from his collection. One of the guitars built by his guitar tech features a fretboard made of both maple and rosewood, on an ash body with neck-through-body construction and a custom humbucking/single/single pickup layout. Currently, he mostly plays the custom black "Sambora" guitar (which is now a custom model called Sambora SA-2 for ESP), different models of Gibson Les Pauls and Fender Telecasters and Stratocasters (American Vintage, American Deluxe, Custom Shop and other models).

Sambora has used Ovation acoustic-electric guitars from the early 1980s until today. He played a custom-made doubleneck designed by his longtime guitar technician Gary "Gaz" Douglas which is featured on many "unplugged" versions of Bon Jovi songs such as "Wanted Dead Or Alive" and a variety of other Ovations, such as the Adamas hybrid wood/graphite model.

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.

Since Sambora has been known to use his favourite Martin acoustic, among others, on a lot of recordings, Martin guitars put out two of Sambora's signature models in 2006, a 6-string and a 12-strings, based on his mentioned favourite 1930 Martin OM-45. He has also been seen using a Yamaha double neck acoustic at specific live shows.

Sambora also used Gibson and Guild acoustics, particularly a Guild F-50 12-string, which he used on the song "Wanted Dead or Alive". He acquired this guitar directly from the Guild factory due to it having a finish flaw.

For most of the 80s and early-mid 90s, he used Marshall amplifiers, particularly the JCM800 models with 4x12" speaker cabinets and a variety of rack and pedal units (including effects). During his Stranger in This Town tour, Sambora used 2 Marshall JCM800 2203 heads and a Fender amp head (model not specified), with 3 4x12" Marshall cabinets. In 1995, Sambora started using Fender ToneMasters with Fender ToneMaster 4x12" speaker cabinets, following the These Days Tour. On tour, he used up to 12 cabinets on stage. For the studio sessions of his second solo album, Undiscovered Soul, he also used a Fender Bassman 4x10" combo and a Vox AC30. On the tour, he used Fender ToneMasters, a Marshall amp head, a Vox amp head and a VHT Pitbull in combination with Fender ToneMaster 4x12" and 2x12" speaker cabinets. In 2000, Sambora started using the Marshall JCM2000 DSL series (both on the tour and recording sessions of Crush). The song "It's My Life" was also recorded with a Mesa Boogie Dual Rectifier. He has also used the Marshall DSL series on the Bounce tour, as well as a Hughes & Kettner amp, occasionally. During their Have a Nice Day tour, Sambora used Diezel and Divided by 13 amplification and custom made 4x12" speaker cabinets. During the studio recording sessions of the Lost Highway album, he used Matchless, Bogner Ecstasy and Diezel Herbert amps. In 2007, he started appearing on stage with 2 halfstacks, again featuring Marshall JCM2000 DSL amplifiers and custom made 4x12" cabinets.

In late 2007, Sambora became an endorsee of The ESP Guitar Company, and a new Richie Sambora signature model, the LTD SA-2, is being debuted at the 2008 Winter NAMM show.

In 2008, Sambora began to use a Matthias Jabs Mastercaster, along with vintage guitars, such as a 1958 Gibson ES-335, and a 1954 Gibson Les Paul Junior.

According to "Young Guitar" (Japanese magazine), Richie Sambora use (during the Tokyo show in 2008) an A/B box, Frampton Talkbox, Jimi Hendrix Dunlop Wah, Keeley Sd-1, Stock SD-1, Roger Mayer Octavia (butane paintjob), Boss CH-1, EHX Electric Mistress Deluxe. He also uses a MIDI rig.

Sambora is also a self taught musician of other instruments including: mandolin, sitar, ukulele, bass, banjo, piano, keyboards, drums, flute, trumpet, saxophone, accordion, bouzouki, mandocello, and others.

Public service and recognition

Over the years, Sambora has been an ardent fundraiser for many charities,[9] such as Dream Street, the Steve Young Forever Young Foundation[citation needed] and Michael J Fox's Parkinson's disease charity. He has donated money privately to various cancer charities since the death of his beloved father, especially with recognition to both hospitals his father was treated at, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center and M D Anderson.[10] 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.[11] These units will help to serve the community and help those afflicted with cancer as well as educate the public about the risks.

In May 2004, Richie Sambora was bestowed with an Honorary Doctorate of Letters by Kean University[12] where he attended the awards ceremony and gave a speech of acceptance. He attended Kean University as a freshman, but then dropped out to pursue a career as a professional guitarist and session musician.

Sambora and Jon Bon Jovi were inducted in the Songwriters Hall of Fame on June 18, 2009. They were introduced by platinum-selling singer-songwriter-guitarist Chris Daughtry, who performed a rocking rendition of "I’ll Be There For You." [13]

Political activism

On June 24, 2009, Richie Sambora, Jon Bon Jovi and Andy Madadian recorded a musical message of worldwide solidarity with the people of Iran. The handwritten Persian sign in the video translates to "we are one".[14] Richie is a lifelong staunch Democrat, and has even attended/performed and been on the advisory board for People For the American Way, an organisation that funds those who are directly affected by Republican congressional policies

Return to Woodbridge, NJ

On November 24, 2009 Richie went back to Woodbridge, New Jersey for a day of celebration in his home town. Richie launched a fundraising effort called “You Can Go Home” (, with its emphasis on giving back to one’s community. This program came to the assistance of another Woodbridge native, Kelly Mahon, a young woman diagnosed with a brain tumor two years ago and who ~ thanks to Richie’s generosity and care ~ was able to go home for the first time in two years to be with her family for Thanksgiving. The day also included the unveiling of Richie Sambora Way, the street leading to Woodbridge High School renamed in honor of this past student, and also the opening of the Adam Sambora Fitness Center, the weight room dedicated to Richie’s father, for which Richie ~ a former Woodbridge High School athlete ~ generously provided the funds to renovate this part of the school.

"He's our most famous alumnus," Woodbridge Mayor John McCormac said, standing outside the high school during the events of the day. Sambora was a member of the state championship basketball team when he was a junior; at the weight room dedication, he said "Use it in good health my friends, and win, win, win, win, win."[15] The name of the fundraising effort plays, indirectly at least, in the best way, off the title of the Thomas Wolfe 1940 novel You Can't Go Home Again.

Personal life

Sambora with Heather Locklear in 1994

Sambora married actress Heather Locklear in Paris on December 17, 1994.[16] Daughter Ava Elizabeth was born October 4, 1997.[17][18] Locklear filed for divorce in February 2006 citing irreconcilable differences.[19] The divorce was finalized on April 11, 2007.[20] Just a few days later, on April 20, Sambora's father Adam died of lung cancer.[21] Sambora dated actress Denise Richards.[22][23] Sambora resides in Los Angeles and owns a home in New Jersey and a high-rise condo at Two Liberty Place in Philadelphia.[24]

On June 7, 2007, it was announced that Sambora was entering an "undisclosed rehab facility in Los Angeles" for treatment related to alcoholism.[25][26] 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."[27] 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 family with helping him through the difficult time.[28][29]

On March 26, 2008, Sambora was arrested for drunk driving in Laguna Beach, California.[30][31] At the time, his girlfriend and ten-year-old daughter were both in his Hummer.[30] 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."[30][31] At his May 2008 arraignment, he pled 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 drivers education course.[32]


Studio albums

Year Album details Peak chart positions Sales Certifications
(sales threshold)
1991 Stranger in This Town 36 42 20 44 15 31
  • US: 250,000+
1998 Undiscovered Soul
  • Released: February 23, 1998
  • Label: Mercury Records
174 24 49 42 15 33 23 37 37
  • US: 50,000
"—" denotes releases that did not chart

Solo singles

Year Single Peak chart positions Album
1991 "Ballad of Youth" 63 13 67 25 59 Stranger in This Town
"One Light Burning"
1991 "Stranger in this Town" 38
1998 "Hard Times Come Easy" 39 37 74 Undiscovered Soul
"In It for Love" 58
"Undiscovered Soul"
"Made in America"
"—" denotes the single failed to chart or not released

Other album appearances

Year Song Artist Album
1990 "The Wind Cries Mary" Richie Sambora The Adventures of Ford Fairlane - Original Soundtrack
2008 "Baby (Rock Remix)" LL Cool J feat. Richie Sambora Exit 13

with Shark Frenzy

  • Shark Frenzy - 2004, Sanctuary

with Message

  • Message - 1980, unknown label
  • Message - 1995, Long Island Records
  • Lessons - 2000, Escape Music
  • Message Live - 2006, Two Sun Songs

With Bon Jovi

Studio albums
Compilation albums
Live albums
Box Sets


  1. ^ 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."
  2. ^ 1977 Woodbridge (NJ) HS Yearbook Pic
  3. ^ Sambora playing the intro to his songs, 1995
  4. ^ a b Celizic, Mike (2007-06-17). "Richie Sambora: Getting ‘life back together’". MSNBC. Retrieved 2008-07-10. 
  5. ^
  6. ^ - "Richie Sambora arrested for alleged DUI " - retrieved 13-04-2009
  7. ^ - "LL Cool J Welcomes 50 Cent, Richie Sambora on New Album, Declares It a “Summer Blockbuster”" - retrieved 13-04-2009
  8. ^ - "Rock legend Bo Diddley dies in Florida" - retrieved 13-04-2009
  9. ^ - "Richie Sambora's Charity Work" - retrieved 13-04-2009
  10. ^,,20179715,00.html - "Richie Sambora Still Standing" - retrieved 13-04-2009
  11. ^ - "Bon Jovi kicks off concert series for lung cancer research" - retrieved 13-04-2009
  12. ^ - "Life After Graduation (Even if its Been a Few Years)" - retrieved 13-04-2009
  13. ^ SHOF Web site page
  14. ^ Andy and Bon Jovi and Richie Sambora stand by me, You Tube
  15. ^ "Bon Jovi's Sambora Comes Home to N.J. for Special Cause" by BRIAN THOMPSON, NBCNewYork Web site, November 24, 2009. Retrieved 2009-11-25. Found viaWKIT-FM home page Bangor, Maine Web site. Probably temporary posting there.
  16. ^,,20156814,00.html - "A Surprise Ending" - retrieved 15-04-2009
  17. ^ -"BALDWIN LIFE OF PARTY? DEMS MAY CAPITOL-IZE" - retrieved 15-04-2009
  18. ^ - "Bon Jovi Boys Keeping Busy" - retrieved 15-04-2009
  19. ^ - "Heather Locklear, Richie Sambora divorce" - retrieved 15-04-2009
  20. ^,,20034452,00.html - "Heather Locklear & Richie Sambora's Divorce Finalized" - retrieved 15-04-2009
  21. ^ - "Richie Sambora's father dead" - retrieved 15-04-2009
  22. ^,2933,298230,00.html - "Richie Sambora: Surviving Heather Locklear, Denise Richards" - retrieved 15-04-2009
  23. ^ - "Denise Richards and Richie Sambora Split! " - retrieved 15-04-2009
  24. ^ - "Luxury at Two Liberty Place" - retrieved 15-04-2009
  25. ^ US Magazine article: "Richie Sambora Seeks Treatment."
  26. ^
  27. ^
  28. ^
  29. ^,,20177836,00.html
  30. ^ a b c People Magazine article: "Richie Sambora Busted for DUI; Daughter Was in the Car".
  31. ^ a b
  32. ^


Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikiquote

Richard "Richie" Steven Sambora (born July 11, 1959) is an American musician who is the lead guitarist of the band Bon Jovi.


Doctorate Award Speech, Kean University (2004)

"Richie Sambora, Kean University Commencement Ceremonies Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters,", PNC Bank Arts Center, Holmdel, NJ (2004-05-06); quoted on Jovirunaway's Bon Jovi Shrine

  • Embrace every challenge you have, every person you meet, every place you visit, every task you succeed at, and especially those at which you fail. You will learn from them all. You'll learn about the world at large and about other people but most important, you'll learn about yourself.
  • Dare to fail. If you never fail, you're never taken risks and that's no way to take on this life.
  • Seize every opportunity you have to learn. Keep your eyes and ears wide open and seize life — don't let the moments slip through your fingers like a fistful of sand. Be your own teacher. Let life write your textbook.
  • For me, success is being able to give back to your friends, your family, your community, those in need and the world entire.
  • There is absolutely no substitute for hard work.
  • Somehow, you need to cling to your optimism. Always look for the silver lining. Always look for the best in people. Try to see things through the eyes of a child. See the wonder in the simplest things. Never stop dreaming. Believe anything is possible.
  • Let me assure you, nothing in this life feels better than having the confidence that you can take care of yourself and your family and know that you can continue to grow and excel in your profession and as a person.
  • Don't look over your shoulder and don't use or abuse others to get ahead. Keep your eyes focused on your goals and keep working for what you believe in and what you want to accomplish.

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