Richie Sambora


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photograph of Richie Sambora

Richie Sambora (born Richard Stephen Sambora on July 11, 1959 in Woodbridge, New Jersey) is best known for having been the lead guitarist for Bon Jovi from 1983 to his departure from the band in 2013. During his time in Bon Jovi he handled harmony and background vocals and collaborated with frontman Jon Bon Jovi in writing most of the band's songs. He has released three solo albums: Stranger In This Town in 1991, Undiscovered Soul in 1998 and Aftermath of the Lowdown in 2012. His main influences are Eric Clapton, Jimi Hendrix, Jeff Beck, and Joe Kmiecik.

Richie got his first guitar when he was just 12 years old. Throughout his career as a guitarist, Richie has displayed an impressive knack for feeling out a guitar solo to the point that it not only follows the key of the song, but the chord progression as well.

Sambora was a guitarist for the band "Message", and with that band put out an independent record titled "Lessons" which was copyrighted in 1982 and produced and arranged by Dean Fasano and Richie Sambora in Woodbridge, New Jersey. It 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.

His technique displays remarkable variety - his soloing in "Wanted Dead or Alive" is laden with artificial harmonics, whereas his riffing for "Livin' on a Prayer" makes extensive use of palm muting. Developing his guitar technique in an era laden with wild soloing inspired by Eddie Van Halen, Richie developed a unique style of speed and precision but it took him a few attempts to impress Jon Bon Jovi. When Jon first saw Richie play he didn't think he was good enough: however he soon changed his opinion after working with Richie. Richie was also one of the first 80's mainstream guitarists to make use of the talk-box. Talk-box was also used by other guitarists, notably Slash from Guns N' Roses, Jeff Beck, Joe Perry of Aerosmith, and Peter Frampton. The talk-box can be heard clearly in "Livin' on a Prayer" and "It's My Life".

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.

Outside of Bon Jovi, Richie has released three solo albums and numerous songs for movie soundtracks (Banger Sisters, On The Line). He also made a cameo in the movie "On The Line".

His first solo outing was "Stranger In This Town", a blues-influenced album that was received well by many critics and guitar affectionados. Eric Clapton made an appearance on the album but it did not fare too well commercially. Richie later admitted that this was due to the fact that he was writing songs from an artistic point, rather than writing a radio oriented album. However, the album did establish Richie as a top rate guitarist, revealing a different side of him that was not widely recognizable during Bon Jovi's 80's heyday. His blues influences would later be present on some of Bon Jovi records as well, notably on 1995's "These Days".

"Undiscovered Soul" was Richie's second solo album, released in 1998. The album was produced by Don Was.

He has appeared in several movie and TV cameos, notably the film 'On The Line' as 'The Mick', and the 'Chris Isaak' show as himself. Recent ventures have seen him compose television theme tunes for both Entertainment Tonight and The Insider. He is a shareholder of the Philadelphia Soul, an Arena Football League football team.

Over the years, Richie has been an ardent fundraiser for many charities, such as Dream Street, the Steve Young Foundation and Michael J Fox's Parkinson's charity. Read more about Richie Sambora on User-contributed text is available under the Creative Commons By-SA License; additional terms may apply.

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