Jon Bon Jovi Reveals Surprising Status of Relationship With Richie Sambora

Richie Sambora, Jon Bon Jovi

Heavy/Getty Richie Sambora and Jon Bon Jovi performing in 2012, a year before Sambora abruptly left the band.

As Bon Jovi marks its 40th anniversary in 2024, the rock band’s timeless hits are still played everywhere from NFL stadiums to the “American Idol” stage. But things haven’t always been smooth sailing for the Rock ‘n Roll Hall of Famers, known for motivational anthems like “Livin’ On a Prayer” and seize-the-moment tunes like “It’s My Life.”

Among the band’s biggest challenges, which will come to light in a new tell-all documentary set to premiere on April 26, was guitarist Richie Sambora’s sudden and shocking split from the group in 2013. Now, as lead singer Jon Bon Jovi, 62, promotes the band’s just-announced new album, “Forever,” he’s opening up about where things stand with his former bandmate and writing partner.

Bon Jovi admitted to Ultimate Classic Rock (UCR) on March 14 that he and Sambora, 64, are “not in contact.” But he’s not ruling out Sambora’s possible return to the band in the future.

Here’s what you need to know:

Jon Bon Jovi Says the Door is ‘Always Open’ for Richie Sambora to Perform With Band

Though both Bon Jovi and Sambora will appear in the four-part docuseries “Thank You Goodnight: The Bon Jovi Story” on Hulu and Disney+, the once-iconic duo has not spoken with each other about what they each shared with the filmmakers.

“Not a word,” Bon Jovi told UCR, saying director Gotham Chopra decided what will be included in the series. “This is not us behind the scenes pulling strings. Oh, no, no, no. They interviewed Richie in London. I wasn’t there. I had nothing to do with it. No, I still haven’t seen the (final) product.”

Bon Jovi told the outlet that though there’s no bad blood between he and Sambora, they are “not in contact because he’s because he’s not in the organization any longer.”

On April 2, 2013 — one month after performing and promoting their new album on “American Idol” — Sambora walked out on the band “due to personal issues” hours before Bon Jovi was scheduled to hit the stage in Calgary. He has since said that touring so much was keeping him away from his daughter, Ava, whom he shares with ex-wife Heather Locklear, per App. 

Guitarist Phil X filled in, with Sambora’s status up in the air throughout the tour. When it became clear Sambora had no intention of returning, Phil X became an official member of Bon Jovi in 2016, according to UCR.

Two years later, Sambora reunited with the band for their 2018 Rock ‘n Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony. Now it sounds like he and Bon Jovi are both open to playing together again.

In a new interview with Remy Maxwell on the “Audacy Check In,” Bon Jovi said, “Hey, the door would always be open.”

Insisting that there’s “nothing but love” between them, Bon Jovi said he simply had to move on after Sambora’s abrupt departure.

“We had a show that night and subsequently had one the next night, and for 11 years, I’ve been making records and doing shows,” he told Maxwell. “So, everyone knows where the bus stops, you know. You show up at work. But I wasn’t gonna not (perform) because somebody was unable.”

“But there’s nothing but love,” he continued. “If he wanted to show up and play sometime, he knows the songs. No animus, I could promise you that.”

Richie Sambora Also Thinks ‘It’s Time’ to Reunite With Bon Jovi

Richie Sambora, Jon Bon Jovi

GettyRichie Sambora and Jon Bon Jovi of Bon Jovi attend the 33rd Annual Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony in April 2018

Though Sambora told United Stations Radio Networks in June 2023 that he was “not even close” to reuniting with Bon Jovi onstage and that “nobody’s asked me yet,” he’s since changed his tune.

But in February, he told Absolute Radio in England that talks had begun about him reuniting with the band.

“We’re talking about it,” he said. “I don’t think there’s any reason not to at this point.”

“You know what, there’s no malice,” Sambora continued. “I mean, we did something… there’s not a lot of bands that did what we did. I mean, obviously, bands like The Rolling Stones, Pink Floyd and U2 (have). But we have to get out there and do it for the fans really. I feel a second obligation.”

Sambora also said that he’d like to return to songwriting with his old bandmate, saying, “Oh, if he doesn’t let me, he’s crazy. I’m on a tear.”

Sambora and Bon Jovi wrote many of the band’s classic tunes together including “Wanted Dead or Alive,” “You Give Love a Bad Name,” and “Bed of Roses.” In 2007, many of their songs were performed on “American Idol” during a Bon Jovi-themed night on the show.

“Thank You, Goodnight: The Bon Jovi Story” debuts on Hulu and Disney+ on April 26. The band’s new album, “Forever,” will be released on June 7 but is available for pre-order now.