"I have a different perspective on all of that": Richie Sambora releases uncut interview footage from Bon Jovi documentary series that sheds new light on the tensions that led to his departure

Richie Sambora, left, and Jon Bon Jovi perform on stage at the United Center, in Chicago, February 24, 2008
(Image credit: Paul Natkin/Getty Images)

Jon Bon Jovi and Richie Sambora are still on good enough terms that they watched three parts of new Disney Plus / Hulu four-part documentary Thank You, Goodnight: The Bon Jovi Story together at the singer's house. But the guitarist, who walked away from the band in 2013, has now revealed some of his thoughts on the series, and posted uncut footage of one of his interviews for it that hints he wasn't entirely satisfied with how his account was represented in the final edit. 

"It's his project and it's his perspective. I have a different perspective on all of that," Sambora told People as he performed at the  11th Annual Unbridled Eve Kentucky Derby Gala on 3 May.

While he was there Sambora donated a guitar he helped design for a children's charity auction, raising $32,000. But on the same day the musician released camera footage on Instagram (shown below) of him being interviewed for the fourth part of the Bon Jovi documentary with the comment "From the cutting room floor of #thankyougoodnight" leading to an outpouring of supportive comments from his fans.

In the footage above, Sambora explains his reasons for departing in 2013 – stating tensions within the band were behind it, as well as his previously publicized desire to step away from Bon Jovi to support his daughter, Ava. 

Everyone has their personal tragedies and stuff like that, but I didn't receive a lot of compassion for coming back from what I was going through

Richie Sambora

Though Sambora states that he doesn't regret "leaving the situation" in the interview, he is apologetic to fans and the band for the way he departed from the band. This part of the interview is used in the final documentary, but in the extended video Sambora posted with footage that is not included in the final version we've seen, he also suggests frustrations within Bon Jovi were a factor in the decision. 

"Everyone has their personal tragedies and stuff like that, but I didn't receive a lot of compassion for coming back from what I was going through," Sambora states, perhaps referencing his substance addiction issues that were reported on around the time. "Everybody had their own respective perspective on fame and fortune – everyone experiences that at different speeds. So that's how life can get whacked from one guy to the next."

In the extended footage, Sambora then goes on to outline his previous role in the band in the 31 years he was a member, not just as Jon Bon Jovi's primary co-writer, guitarist and backing vocalist but as his most honest "fan". 

I could be a fan of Jon and go, 'I don't wanna hear you sing that'

Richie Sambora

"I was essential because I spent more time with Jon than even his wife, and was more honest, and we spent a lot of time in a room with no windows from the beginning stages of just writing the material. And then recording it, basically the guys would do basic tracks for a couple of weeks and then it was Jon and I, and the respective producer – whoever it was at the time. 

"But I also was a co-producer on those records and I think that I had a good view," adds Sambora in the footage he posted. "I was a fan too. I could be a fan of Jon and go, 'I don't wanna hear you sing that'… 'This is what I would like to hear from you if I'm a fan in the audience', that kind of thing. I think that was one of my primary roles besides being his right hand and also an accurate mirror, so to speak."

Sambora also stated that he believes he was the one who steered Bon Jovi to being more on a unit compared to its original era: "I was the guy who really fought for this to be a band.

"It's a band – it's really, really hard to be married to four other guys and be in close quarters the way we were," he explained. "So that coupled with my daughter coming of age and my [ex] wife's mental health stuff was really acting up. And she needed me, and I needed her."

The third episode of the documentary series details Richie's eventual departure from Bon Jovi, and the band member's perspectives and regrets on a decade that included three stints in rehab for the guitarist. 

There's also new light cast of the musical role of producer John Shanks as he became more involved in tracking guitar parts in the studio. "The band was stale at that point," reflects Sambora in the documentary. "And my job was to say that."

For his part, Jon Bon Bovi explains how he didn't receive this observation well.

"You can't point fingers and say things about the rest of the collective that just… they're not true."

At the end of the day it got sour

In the third episode it seems that Sambora's frustrations become focussed on the expanded role of Shanks in particular on the band's 2013 album What About Now. "At the end of the day it got sour," he reflects.

Shanks, who began working with the band as a co-producer on Jon Bon Jovi's 2005 album Have A Nice Day, is now a guitarist with Bon Jovi alongside Phil X. He ended up writing the title track to What About Now during a time when it seems Sambora's role had become diminished.

"John and I ended up writing What About Now – Richie doesn't show up, no big deal, reveals Jon Bon Jovi in the third episode. "I'm just pushing to keep going and Richie was really upset that on a song I had written called The Fighter, he didn't play this one part on an acoustic guitar. And that caused a problem.

Shanks being a studio musician was very capable of going in and being done with the parts so that we – Richie myself and John – could move on.

"I didn't know, and no words were spoken" adds the singer, his voice cracking with emotion, "that Richie, he was crushed that he was replaced."

For Sambora, the results on What About Now were a musical compromise. 

"John Shanks and Jon had 30 songs and they said that they felt that they had the record," explains Sambora towards the end of episode 3. I said, 'Let me hear it'. I go, 'It don't sound like Bon Jovi.'"

  • Thank You, Goodnight: The Bon Jovi Story is available to stream on Hulu and Disney Plus. Richie Sambora's new solo single Livin' Alone is out now. Bon Jovi's new album Forever is out on 7 June.
Rob Laing
Guitars Editor, MusicRadar

I'm the Guitars Editor for MusicRadar, handling news, reviews, features, tuition, advice for the strings side of the site and everything in between. Before MusicRadar I worked on guitar magazines for 15 years, including Editor of Total Guitar in the UK. When I'm not rejigging pedalboards I'm usually thinking about rejigging pedalboards.