Richie has hit back at Jon's claims, telling MailOnline exclusively: 'I don't have any major problems in life right now, I love my fans and I feel bad for them at the moment. Bottom line'(Read the full article here.)
'My opinion is Jon wants to see if he can pull off stadiums by himself. He is making it very difficult for me to come back.'
He added: 'Enough with the trash talking!'
'Jon needs to stop talking about me publicly. I am fine working very hard on my fashion company Nikki Rich and this is a private matter.'
Richie has his say on whether he's replaceable, talking about the tour he tells MailOnline: '[The fans] have paid money to see Bon Jovi and right now, they are not getting the whole deal.'
The article exploded onto the interwebs early yesterday, but I held off posting it for a couple of reasons. One being that this ongoing saga is sometimes a bit too much to handle; let's face it, who can recall there being this much drama in the Bon Jovi world? Maybe the burnout following the Jersey Syndicate tour, which I'm too young to remember, but that was pre-social media when everything could be conducted behind closed doors. Secondly, I don't know how much one can trust the UK tabloids (and there were several typos in that Daily Mail article), but if they were going as far as to manufacture quotes, then surely Richie would have to speak up at last? I was hopeful he might actually say something to ease our minds or at least answer some questions.
Instead he tweeted this...
Just to be clear,I've been running the fashion company for 5 Yrs. It does not take me away from the band,I'm an artist first. Always will be— Richie Sambora (@TheRealSambora) May 23, 2013
... without denying any of the quotes attributed to him. Does that mean one can assume the gloves are well and truly off? Or maybe Richie's just taking the piss now, if he wasn't already. After all, he sees what people have been saying about the situation on Twitter, etc but chooses to tweet asinine things that don't address anyone's real concerns.
What saddens me is how it's turned into Jon vs Richie, not just between the men themselves (if that is indeed what is going on, since we still don't really know any more than we did on April 2) but between their fans. To be fair, there has been an element of this for years. Fans discontent with Bon Jovi's recent musical output have, at various times sought to blame "CEO Jon" for turning Bon Jovi into a greedy moneymaking machine at the expense of the art and accused him of forcing Richie to play uninspired pop instead of showing off his true guitar-playing talent.
As someone who's never been "pro-Jon" or "pro-Richie" -- just a fan of the band and supporter of its members' outside projects -- I can't say I agree with that assessment. Sure, What About Now is about as close to a JBJ solo album as you'll get without having "Jon Bon Jovi" printed on the front cover, but Richie had as much to do with the direction Bon Jovi had taken over the decade or so prior to that. I very much doubt Jon was standing over Richie forbidding him to play any complicated solos, for instance. And maybe Richie did find his "artistic soul" while making Aftermath of the Lowdown and decided the Bon Jovi machine was not for him right now -- that suggestion has been made several times and it's as plausible a reason as any for his continued absence. But if that's the case, he should have put his foot down before the tour began. Walking out the day of a show when tens of thousands of fans have purchased tickets, even if it's to "fight for the art" or because "he's sick of Jon's crap" doesn't make him a hero (IF that is what has happened; like I said, we know zilch).
Meanwhile, Jon had some interesting things to say in an interview with Spiegel in Germany. If, like me, you don't speak or read German, you can run the article through Google Translate or check out this translation by alessiasambo on Jovitalk. Bearing in mind that the original interview has been translated from English to German and now back to English, here's an extract from that translation:
SPIEGEL: "On your new record you sing about a punk rocker, who is crying after the legendary Club CBGB's, about a journalist, whose paper has closed down..."
Bon Jovi: "...and of a factory worker, whose factory was outsourced to Asia, yes. That is the social and cultural reality in our country."
SPIEGEL: "But what do you have to do with that? You are in a matter of speaking the CEO of one of the most successful companies in the entertainment business and for sure no poor man."
Bon Jovi: "How can a rich man sing about the problems of a poor man?"
SPIEGEL: "That's what I would like to know from you."
Bon Jovi: "Nobody would care for the worries of a rich man, particularly his worries are rather laughable compared to those of an unemployed man. That is not my task either. I tell stories, this is my job: to tell believable stories about things with which my audience can relate to. Do I need to be a punk rocker to sing about punk rock? I don't think so. My grandparents were poor people, who had to work hard, my parents have worked hard, and my brothers don't have any money even today, they have debts! So I do know what I am talking about pretty well. And when I sing about washing the dishes that is more than a metaphor too. Because I really wash the dishes, when I am in the kitchen of my restaurant."
SPIEGEL: "And how long is it supposed to go on like this? Just now your guitarist Richie Sambora has left the band."Well, they do have one half of a Tony Award-winning duo in the band in David Bryan...
Bon Jovi: "I believe it's not gonna last very long anymore for us either. My management doesn't like it, but I thought recently: People, we now are where artists like Elton John and Eric Clapton have been before. Not, that they still aren't great musicians still today, but I think we have reached the highest point of our journey. It might be that we are going to go downwards from now on. Not that I wouldn't like to earn more money, but at 70, like the Stones, I really don't wanna do this job anymore."
SPIEGEL: "So what's next then? "Bon Jovi - the musical"? You would have the hits for this."
Bon Jovi: "True, there even has been an offer for that not long ago already. If you meant that as an insult, I cannot take it like that. I mean, ABBA have earned more money with "Mamma Mia" than with all their records in the past. Without this musical nobody in the USA would know anymore who ABBA were. So if somebody wants to write the story for it and bring our songs to Broadway - do it!"
Anyway, I have tickets to see Bon Jovi (whichever lineup is in Australia) in December and unless something dramatically positive happens, I'm guessing that will be it from the band for a while... Very little seems to have gone to plan on this tour. If this is indeed the end, it's a shame it had to be like this after 30 years.