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Issue Date: March 2013


Livin’ on a Dream

Richie Sambora comes clean about rehab, family life and Bon Jovi's new album.
Lynne Thompson

You won't find Richie Sambora griping about the trials of stardom.

There's still enough of the blue-collar New Jersey kid in the 53-year-old Bon Jovi guitarist to appreciate packing arenas and stadiums after three decades.

"The only bad part about touring for me personally is having to leave my daughter," he says, referring to 15-year-old Ava, his only child with ex-wife Heather Locklear. "Everything else is a dream, especially at this level. ... Every time I walk out in front of the stadium stage and there's 50,000 or 60,000 people — or more — I go, 'Again? For me?'"

Sambora is enthusiastic about where his band is as they make another global trek and prepare for the March 26 release of their 12th studio album, What About Now.

Although he won't spill secrets about the live show, which stops at Quicken Loans Arena March 9, Sambora can't stop talking about the new release and how it'll help fans connect with the band like never before.

Those who download the official Bon Jovi app can point their smartphone camera at the street-art style album cover to unlock surprises such as animated and interactive versions of Bon Jovi artwork, and other exclusive content like a 90-second preview of the song "What About Now."

"We walk right out of it!" Sambora says. "And it's ever-changing as the tour goes on."

Sambora says he hopes the way the physical album cover art and app work together will get fans to buy the music on CD rather than downloading it.

Musically, What About Now offers a toned-down rock vibe with optimistic songs penned by Sambora and lead singer Jon Bon Jovi that sound more pop than rock.

"A lot of songs on this record are about inclusion," Sambora says. " 'Because We Can' is about people getting together to conquer something."

Sobriety helped spark Sambora's renewed positive attitude. He missed a handful of shows during the band's last tour for a stint in rehab. He says his battles with substance abuse have helped in giving his daughter moral guidance.

"We have an ease in talking to each other," Sambora says. "We've been through a lot together."

But he insists he's just another single father off the road.

"When I'm home, I'm taking out the garbage, bringing my kid to school, and picking up dog shit," he says.


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