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October 28, 2005

Richie Sambora is ready to rock D.M.

'Spoiled' Sambora ready to play


October 27, 2005

It's no big shock when the pampered rock star phones late for his interview.At least Bon Jovi guitarist Richie Sambora had an upstanding, iron-clad excuse when he rang earlier this month.He had to attend a parent-teacher conference for his daughter Ava Elizabeth, a third-grader.

"We still have those duties even though we're rock stars," Sambora, 46, said from his home in Los Angeles, where he lives with his actress wife, Heather Locklear.

Bon Jovi aims to school younger bands when it launches its "Have a Nice Day" world tour Wednesday in Des Moines. Rehearsals have been taking place for several days at Veterans Memorial Auditorium before the production moves across Third Street into Wells Fargo Arena, where 15,000 fans will flock for their full dosage of "Bad Medicine."

Music trends have recycled many times over since May 1987, when Bon Jovi played in front of a massive outdoor throng of 29,000 at the Iowa State Fairgrounds.

Yet the 22-year-old New Jersey band somehow has persevered as more than mere nostalgia and still rates a stadium draw overseas. Frontman Jon Bon Jovi has cultivated much "Oprah" appeal since the '80s as a heartthrob actor and humanitarian. He even appeared on the season premiere of Oprah Winfrey's talk show last month, and on behalf of the band donated $1 million to Hurricane Katrina relief.

Bon Jovi's new, 10th album, "Have a Nice Day," debuted in September at No. 2 on the Billboard Top 200 Albums Chart, selling 201,881 copies within its first week in stores. Wednesday's concert is sold out.

Jon sans the rest of the band last stopped in central Iowa almost exactly a year ago, when he made a stumping-and-acoustic strumming campaign swing through Ames, Des Moines and Indianola on behalf of presidential candidate John Kerry.

Sambora said that while he has performed at fundraisers for Bill Clinton in the past, he "didn't know what to make" of Kerry and so let Jon push that cause alone.

"If you're not really, really committed to it, you really shouldn't do it," Sambora said. "I'm not a Republican nor a Democrat. I don't think I should impose that on people, especially if I'm not sure about it."

More wisdom from a man who has seen a million faces and rocked them all:

Q: How do you indulge on tour these days?

A: We have a private jet, and that's the way we indulge. A 20-hour bus ride is like a two-hour plane ride. We stay at a comfortable city nearby, a hotel that has a great gym. I like my marble bathroom, put it that way. I do need a suite, I'm a spoiled bastard , I admit it.

Q: You guys give aging a good name. How do you keep in shape?

A: I do cardio, run a couple miles and lift some weights, four to five times a week. The world likes their rock stars skinny.

Q: What's the last concert you attended as a fan?

A: The other night, a country show. Brad Paisley called me. Brad happens to be an amazing guitar player. I met him at a party in Nashville. We hit it off real good. I had never really seen him play before. What a musician. The band was just unbelievable.

Q: Who are your guitar idols?

A: Jimmy Page, Eric Clapton, Jimi Hendrix, Jeff Beck, David Gilmour, Duane Allman. I basically come from that old school. I was a blues guy, blues-rock kinda guy, but fit my style into pop music. I also have a heavier side to me. ("Have a Nice Day") is very thick as far as guitars go. I had the chance to really kind of give the guitar a workout. There's everything from heavy rock to piano ballads to almost a little country thing that we have on this particular record.

Q: So many celeb marriages bite the dust within weeks or months, but you and Heather have lasted for 11 years. What's your relationship advice?

A: Hang on, man. Marriage is tough. Heather and I, we're basically almost in the same kind of industry. When you get a chance to go to work, you gotta work. . . . Some of the time apart has kept us fresh.

Q: Where did you and Jon write the songs for the new album?

A: Most of it was written over at Jon's place. He has a guest house, it's my kind of guest cabin. He has four kids runnin' around, so we try to stay out of the way. We sit down at the kitchen table in the guest house, and he has a studio right on the grounds. . . . As soon as we got done writing (a song), we'd walk across the lawn and start recording

Q: Creative partnerships that fuel bands are notoriously fractious — John and Paul, Mick and Keith, Noel and Liam, etc. How have you and Jon managed to remain friendly?

A: We kind of had a little Mick-and-Keith moment in the late '80s there. It was burnout and overwork. We've been managing ourselves ever since. It was two back-to-back tours, 16 1/2 months apiece. When you come home, life has changed, people died, relationships are over, your house is not the same, your friends move away. It's a very strange thing. Everybody interprets fame and fortune at different speeds, and at that time everybody was kind of out of sync. It took us a year, year and a half to get back in the groove. There hasn't been a flare-up. Kids also make you have a lot of humility.

Posted by riesambo at October 28, 2005 10:54 PM