Thursday, July 11, 2013

July 11: Bon Jovi lead guitarist Richie Sambora is 54-years-old today.

Richard Stephen "Richie" Sambora was born July 11, 1959 in Perth Amboy, New Jersey. He began playing the guitar at the age of 12 following the death of guitar legend Jimi Hendrix in 1970. From his early days Sambora was strongly influenced by blues and 60s rock and roll.

Richie got his first guitar when he was just 12 years old. Developing his guitar technique in an era laden with wild soloing inspired by Eddie Van Halen, Richie developed a unique style of speed and precision. He began his musical career as guitarist for the band Message. Jon Bon Jovi added Sambora to replace original lead guitarist Dave Sabo.

Richie was one of the first 80’s mainstream guitarists to make use of the talk-box. Talk-box was also used by other guitarists, notably Slash from Guns N’ Roses, Jeff Beck, Joe Perry of Aerosmith, and Peter Frampton. The talk-box can be heard clearly in “Livin’ on a Prayer” and “It’s My Life.”

He and frontman Jon Bon Jovi form the primary songwriting unit of the band. Sambora has occasionally taken over as lead vocalist on some Bon Jovi songs, most notably "I'll Be There for You" and "These Days."

Outside of Bon Jovi, Richie has released three solo albums and numerous songs for movie soundtracks (Banger Sisters, On The Line). He also made a cameo in the movie On The Line.

His first solo outing was Stranger In This Town, a blues-influenced album that was received well by many critics and guitar affectionados. Eric Clapton made an appearance on the album. The album did not do well commercially. However, the album did establish Richie as a top rate guitarist, revealing a different side of him that was not widely recognizable during Bon Jovi’s 80’s heyday.

His blues influences would later be present on some of Bon Jovi records as well, notably on 1995’s “These Days.” Undiscovered Soul was Richie’s second solo album, released in 1998. His third, Aftermath of the Lowdown was released in September 2012.

Sambora has appeared in several movie and TV cameos, notably the film On The Line as The Mick. He has also composed television theme tunes for both Entertainment Tonight and The Insider. He is also a shareholder of the Philadelphia Soul, an Arena Football League football team.


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