Richie Sambora will always be known as the man who co-wrote some of the biggest rock songs in history as guitarist in Bon Jovi, but last year, after 30 years, he decided not to rejoin the band on tour.
“It was my daughter and my family,” he says of his reasons for leaving the band. “I missed so much of my daughter’s life and my heart was breaking.
“I know [leaving Bon Jovi] wasn’t a popular decision that I made, but… 30 years is a good run. It’s almost unheard of. I had to make a pretty unpopular decision, but I had a chance to go to my kid’s parent teacher night, her sweet 16 birthday party, I got to go and watch her cheerlead – honestly, that bond needed to be done. I missed it.
“I missed so much of her life and she’s all I got. My wife [actress Heather Locklear] and I are obviously divorced, and I want to be a dad.”
The workload was also extreme, Sambora says, with the band keeping a schedule that didn’t allow him to have a sufficient balance in his life.
“I said very openly it should have been a bit longer [between tours],” he said. “We had just had two massive tours back to back.
“I needed a little more time home to be with the family, but the guys wanted to go, so that’s cool. I don’t think it’s the end of the organisation or the end of the band at any point. People grow at different speeds and they have different desires.
“But I have no malice whatsoever. And I think at some point we’ll make some more records and go out and tour again, but it’s time for a break man.”
He’s now coming to Soundwave as a solo artist, something he says he finds liberating.
“When you’re in a band it’s a compromise, but this is my solo project and, if you listen to [2012’s] Aftermath Of The Lowdown, I’m talking about my life explicitly and it was pretty deep.
“It’s nice to say ‘I’m not perfect’. I’m just like everybody. I’m not trying to pretend that I don’t have struggles in my life. Look, I’ve got a very blessed life, but everyone goes through emotional stuff; you lose parents, you lose people, you get divorced – and that freaks you out – it’s just life.”
Sambora says Australia has always been a particularly special place for him.
“Obviously I’ve had a love affair with Australia for a long, long time. You guys opened your arms up to me from the moment I set on the shore. Honestly, it’s ridiculous, you guys just got us man, it was a great, great thing.
As for Soundwave itself, he admits the invitation to be a part of it was baffling, but accepting it was a no-brainer.
“It’s a little bit baffling to me, but, look, I’m ready to get out and play,” he says. “I’ve been gigging a lot and it’s been a lot of fun. It was a resounding ‘yes’ from me. Before they got the sentence done I was like ‘yeah!’.”
It was a New Year’s Eve jam on the Hawaiian island of Maui with his old buddies Alice Cooper, Sammy Hagar and Steven Tyler that Sambora met 28 year old Australian born guitar gun Orianthi; now he’s bringing her over for Soundwave..
“I gotta tell you something,” he whispers. “I don’t know a better guitar player – and that includes me! She’s got everything man and she’s such a sweet person, but fierce. There was some kind of chemistry there that was natural and unsaid in a way.”
Richie Sambora Talks About Leaving Bon Jovi, Soundwave and Orianthi