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November 21, 2004

Yahoo! Alerts 11/20/2004

Keyword News: [Richie Sambora]

New Jersey boys sold 100 million albums
Friendship key to their ongoing success


As one of the most popular rock bands in the world, Bon Jovi hasn't just made musical history during its 20-year career: It has also been a close witness to music business history.

On the way to becoming one of the most famous acts from New Jersey, Jon Bon Jovi, Richie Sambora, Tico Torres and David Bryan saw changes aplenty.

Across two decades, Bon Jovi has not only endured, but thrived. On the eve of the release of the boxed set 100,000,000 Bon Jovi Fans Can't Be Wrong, the group members spoke individually to Billboard about their long-lived career. Q. Twenty years after your debut, your band is counted along with Bruce Springsteen and Frank Sinatra among the biggest musical acts from New Jersey. How does it feel to be in such company? Jon Bon Jovi: It's pretty incredible. I, in 1983, never in my wildest, wildest dreams, ever envisioned having the conversation 20 years down the road — forget 100 million albums later. God, nobody could even fathom those kinds of numbers. So, it's awe-inspiring for us, as a band, to know that those are legit album numbers. Q. What do you remember from recording the first album? JBJ: I remember taking pictures of us in the studio going, "Wow, this is real." I remember having this 99-cent mini-bottle of champagne that I used to say I was going to open the day I got a record deal and I put it in the fridge to chill it and it broke before we got to open it (he laughs).

I remember the producers and engineers saying, "Well, you guys aren't very good are you?" Learning about comping a vocal for the first time and having the engineer tell you that "it's how it's done — everyone sings a song more than once, you don't have to apologize."

It was all those great things about making the early records. We were as green as could be. It was just all part of the joy of learning the process. Q. "Wanted Dead Or Alive" makes the analogy between being on tour and being a cowboy. What was it about such a character that you identify with? JBJ: In simplistic terms, here I was on a bus for a couple of years, finding America for the first time, seeing what it was all about, taking the dream and making it a reality. But another dawn on a highway, there was a romantic version of that. There was the feeling that you, in cliched terms, rode into a town, took the money, met the girls, drank their booze and left before they caught you, and that was the cute way I would describe it as a 25-year-old.

As I got older, it was more the life of a carny, and then as I got older still, it was more the life of a traveling salesman. But the romantic version in my 20s was that of a cowboy. Q. Where do you see the band in the next 10 years? JBJ: We all have other creative outlets, so though this is the mothership, the thing that keeps us secure, we encourage each other to do those other projects so wholeheartedly that it allows us to never have to rely on this, and therefore never break up. And the only reason I would ever walk away from this is — you will never see this band on a nostalgia tour ... I'm not doing it. I'm walking away. I said that from the beginning, and I've stuck by that statement. Torres: We have always said that we're not going to be the old boxer that's still boxing when he can't win a match. We'll do it as long as we have fun, and we'll do it as long as we can be as good as we can be. And when that stops, we'll stop. Q. What has enabled the band to remain together, either musically or in terms of personalities? JBJ: As a band? I think that first and foremost, we were friends ... The greatest compliment I can tell you about Richie Sambora is that you'd be lucky to call him your friend. That's how loyal the guy is.

I think that we see through each other's faults ... We truly do enjoy each other's company. We still laugh when we're together. Bryan: We're in it too long to get divorced, you know? It's too much fun, and I think Richie said it best when he said, "We need to get out of the house." Q. What's the craziest part about being famous? JBJ: I remember walking through the White House in the late '80s and having people come out of their offices and telling me they had entered the contest (on MTV) to win my parents' house. These were people who were running the country.

Quarterbacks of NFL teams would come up to you and tell you what an influence the songs were on them. You just go, "Wow. Really? Me? You're kidding." That was a lot to thrust upon five guys from Jersey. Sambora: Well, nothing is sacred, obviously. They can write anything they want about you, true or untrue. That's probably the weirdest thing, when you read something in an article or a magazine, something that's completely fiction. I mean, the first time I really experienced something like that was when I was with Cher. Crazy stuff would be in the tabloids. Torres: The craziest part is you get stuff for free when you can afford it. Crazy to me. I started playing in 1967 and buying drum sets and equipment. I remember playing a club in West Orange, N.J., and I was packing up the next day and Buddy Rich's band was coming in. Buddy came in and says, "Kid, you playin' with those cymbals?" They were all cracked Zildjians.

I go, "Yeah." He goes, "Come here," and he gave me a card. He goes, "Go talk to this guy Sal at the Bayonne bus station," gave me the address and two cymbals. And I smashed them and used them, and I thought that was a wonderful thing — this guy, the best drummer in the world, gave me some cymbals.

But, you know, you used to have to buy everything. Now you make it, and the people will give it to you for free. I think that's crazy. Backward, you know? Maybe the people starting out should get it for free, they get to that point where they can afford it, and they got to buy it.


Posted by riesambo at November 21, 2004 12:48 PM