Speaking with Germany’s Rock Antenne, Bon Jovi’s frontman suggests that Sambora’s exit from the band in 2014 caused “pain and heartbreak”, but also suggests that the band might not be in the same musical space had the guitarist not quit six years ago.
“Some things happened that are the catalyst for why other good things happen,” Bon Jovi mused. “There's not a day that goes by that I don't wish that Richie had his life together and was still in the band. And yet, in a weird way, it's because of his inability to get it together anymore that we went on and wrote [2016 album] This House Is Not For Sale. It was a very strong record. I don't know where we would have gone, but through all that pain and heartbreak came this."
Sambora, who joined Bon Jovi in 1983, and co-wrote most of the band’s biggest hits, walked away from the band in 2014, following the completion of the New Jersey band’s Because We Can tour.
“I just needed to be a dad and a normal human being,” the guitarist late revealed, “and quite frankly I wanted to get back to my thing, to sing, to write, to creatively go to different places. When you are in a huge organisation like Bon Jovi, and on the road for 16 months, you’re in a cocoon, but life continues, there are marriages, divorces, births, deaths. As a musician there is no room for artistic growth if you are on the road all the time.”
The guitarist later said he thought that Bon Jovi “should have made more strides to become a band” and not turn into “Jon being the front guy and nothing else.” He did, however, reunite with the group on stage at the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame induction ceremony in Cleveland in April 2018. When asked later that year if the door was open should he wish to return to Bon Jovi, Sambora replied “That’s an impossible question.”
“Oh God, I don’t know,” he told Planet Rock. “That’s an impossible question. He’s got to want to do it, I’ve got to want to do it, it’s got to be the right time. And the thing is, I like the way things are going in my life right now. I’m very happy with the music I make and I get to play on other people’s records and produce other people’s records and I get a chance to be with my family and do family things. That makes me happy.”
Bon Jovi's new album, 2020, was released on October 2 via Island Records.