Take Aim: Amy Sciarretto vs. Richie Sambora
Tue, 20 Jan 2015 07:58:31
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Sometimes, we throw out the standard Take Aim format of questions when an artist warrants it. Richie Sambora, the longtime guitarist of Bon Jovi, certainly warrants that treatment. He's the boss! Right before the holidays, we spoke to Mr. Sambora about a variety of topics, from his efforts with the kids at School of Rock involving a Christmas cover to his work with female guitar slayer Orianthi to his current Jovi status.
Since he is from New Jersey, like this writer, there was an instant camaraderie, but the guitarist was warm and candid, and sounded genuinely excited about where he is in his career right now.
Talk about your performance of "Happy Xmas/War Is Over" on the Hallmark Channel's Home and Family, with Orianthi and the School of Rock in L.A. for The Hollywood Christmas Parade, which had been canceled due to rain. But you used your muscle, so to speak, to give the kids a second chance. Tell us about it!
I try to do things for the community, and anything for kids, I am a sucker for. I had done [this] in New York and Los Angeles. I got to play with Stevie Wonder, which was like 'Oh my God!' That was tremendous. That is the song I wanted to do. It's one of the classics. We needed a children's choir. I have been playing with Orianthi and we came up with eight kids from the School of Rock. They came over to the house, we sat down, had a pow wow. It was a homespun thing. I went around the circle, asking kids stuff about their generation. These kids were between 8 and 18. You know, it never rains in California and we had the craziest rain [on the day of the parade]. We waited for it to subside so we could do it. It was the band, Stevie, the kids. The fire marshal pulled the plug. We had crying children on our hands. I promised them, 'Hey look, before Christmas, I will get you on TV.' I made some phone calls. Three days later, we were on the Hallmark Channel.
Can you talk about your unique relationship with guitar pioneer Les Paul... like the first time you met him, which is a legendary story?
I met him when I was 28. He came to my house and gave me a guitar. It was like a fairy godmother hitting you in the head with a wand. We were recording New Jersey, the follow up to Slippery When Wet. The pressure was on and it was close to my birthday. We were recording in Vancouver, and I said, 'Let me go home, see my parents, smoke weed,' and my friend shows up with Les Paul. He came out on the dock and plugged in. He gave me a Les Paul and said, 'I heard you are under pressure. This might help you. This will do you good.' His actual quote was, 'Son, here is the sword. Go cut the shit.'
Wow. Just wow. You are now working closely with Orianthi, who has made quite a name for herself playing with Alice Cooper. How did you start working with her?
O and I met when I was in Maui. It was my annual vacation, with my daughter and a couple of her friends. Alice Cooper lives up there, has a place. He called me, he had a charity show for kids, and asked me if I wanted to come play, so I said, 'Yeah, of course.' It was great to see him. Ori and I, our musical chemistry was off the charts from jump street. She is a child prodigy and a virtuoso. She is the best female guitar player on the planet, but on any given night, she is the best guitar player. She sings and writes. I was Bon Jovi's sidearm and she was Michael Jackson's sidearm. Don't you think it's about time? We have five albums worth of songs. We wrote for 11 months. That is the process. She is a wonderful girl.
When can we expect music or is this time frame loose?
No timeline. We're just getting into the studio. We'll see what happens. We know what we are going to do. When we start playing, three hours go by. I fell in love with music again. In Bon Jovi, you are covering the world, doing press everywhere and it's a hard-working organization. You miss a lot of life. My daughter and I, we look at each other, we miss each other, and I thought this is more important. I have enough money and it's one of those things. There are two places, Nashville and L.A., where you can still work as a musician. To me, that is a new musical community, since I never had the time. I am enjoying that and learning so many different things, playing on other records, producing artists. I go on the road for four weeks, not 18-and-a-half months. Now I am the boss. Bon Jovi was a dream job for any musician. 30 years... that's a good run.
What is your actual Bon Jovi status?
Right now, I am not in the band. No one can predict the future, but right now, I want to play until I am dead and I am not going to depend on anyone else for that. Some guys want to play golf or fuck around in a sailboat. For Ori and me, it is such a creative spurt. I love music again.
Sounds like you have a primal level of musical connection with her!
I feel invigorated and young again, and eager. I could do a solo album but now I have a partner. We can do whatever we want and everything in between.
Are you stoked about Richie Sambora's latest endeavors?