Sunday, October 18, 2020

That Jon vs Richie thing again...

I wasn't even going to touch this one with a ten-foot virtual pole at first. But then people in my life, who aren't really Bon Jovi fans but know that I am, started bringing it up and asking for my thoughts on the matter. To the point where it started to feel odd that I wasn't saying anything when I have an entire blog dedicated to Bon Jovi.

So here goes.

Ahead of the release of 2020, Jon was interviewed via Zoom by Thomas Moser from Rock Antenne in Germany. Here's the interview:

At around the 9:50 mark, Jon was asked if he had any regrets in his career, to which he replied there were very few because even bad things had led to other good things. But he did say this about  Richie Sambora, which has been plucked out and republished elsewhere:

"There's not a day that goes by that I don't wish that Richie had his life together and was still in the band. And yet, you know, in a weird way it's because of his inability to get it together anymore that we went on and wrote This House Is Not For Sale, and it was a very strong record, and that I'm able to write songs like this. Maybe we would've gotten lazy. Maybe we would've been... I don't know where we would've gone. But through all that pain and heartbreak came this."

The reason I wasn't going to blog about it initially is that... I kind of put all this to bed a few years ago. I like Bon Jovi. I like Jon. I like Richie. I make no apologies about that.

I don't subscribe to the view that Bon Jovi is dead because Richie isn't there. Or that Richie was the One and Only True Talent of the band. That's pretty disrespectful to David Bryan and Tico Torres, who are still there as original members, and Hugh McDonald who's been around longer than Alec John Such was. 

But neither am I going to dismiss Richie's hugely important contributions to the band. Richie co-wrote some of my favourite songs of all time, songs that made Bon Jovi what they are. His guitar work and harmonies define a lot of what people recognise as Bon Jovi. So of course it's different now that he's gone.

Richie's pals came out to defend him and get stuck into Jon, including former Fox and NBC News anchor Megyn Kelly:

"I was in a dire situation with my family and I had to make a tough decision and I did and I'm sure people weren't happy about it"

Look, I personally don't buy the "I left to spend time with my daughter" story. Because a) you can do that without leaving your band in the lurch on the day of a concert, and b) for most of 2013, Richie was still talking about rejoining the band later in the tour. So I think spending more time with Ava ended up being a wonderful by-product of not being in Bon Jovi anymore rather than the reason. But I'm glad Ava seems to have turned out really well.

Is Jon seeking attention for his new albums by bringing Richie up? Perhaps. But I liked This House Is Not For Sale, especially "Living with the Ghost" (which is about Richie's departure, so obviously it couldn't have been written without it). And I think some of the songs on 2020 are the best material that's been released under the Bon Jovi name in maybe 20 years. Sure, it's a Jon-centric record, and probably not what they'd be releasing if Richie were still writing Bon Jovi songs. But it's a good album. Well, I think so, anyway. So I think Jon might actually be right about that particular silver lining.

And I'm eye-rolling pretty hard at all the keyboard warriors fawning over Richie's parenting while bringing up Jon's daughter's overdose at college. Like those same people wouldn't have been taking cheap shots at Richie's mug shot appearance after he was caught driving drunk with his then-10-year-old child in car.

But as I said before -- I like both Jon and Richie. Neither is by any means perfect, but their music is a part of me. I love the latest Bon Jovi album and I'm keen to listen to Richie's next solo album. I'd love some sort of a reunion someday, but I don't expect it to happen, and I'm okay with that.

P.S. I reckon the Rock Antenne interview with Jon was pretty good. That's probably been lost in all this drama. Another good one is the interview Jon did with GQ Magazine recently, where he talks about the making of 2020, the campaign against him in Buffalo, and patriotism.

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  1. I agree with most of what you are saying - especially about Richie. I don’t believe the family excuse either - I think Jon called him on his drinking, Richie didn’t like that & bailed. But we’ll never know what really happened. I wish Jon & Richie would write songs together again. Since Richie left their songs have started to all sound the same to me.
    I’m sorry, but I just cannot get behind the 2020 album. I understand that artists write about life & this year has brought more than enough material! And I don’t mind a couple socially centric songs on an album. But an entire album of it seems a little depressing. I listen to music to escape reality & make me feel better when things are tough - this album just reminds me of how screwed up the world is. Part of this might be because I live in Minneapolis - where George Floyd was killed. So maybe that’s part of the reason I feel that way. Watching parts of our city destroyed by rioters & the aftermath on the news every night is tough.
    Love your blog - I’ve followed it for years!

    1. Thanks for your comments and kind words. :)

      Totally understand your views on the album... I like it but for a lot of people, it's not what they want to hear on a Bon Jovi record.

  2. I agree with the first comment. I have been a fan since the early 80s and love the music to jam and escape. Not to be depressed and/or be lectured to about politics, which he’s done on a few songs on recent albums. That was a side bar.

    But to the point about Richie and Jon, I do miss the magic between them, the harmonies they create, and the wonderful songwriting they do together. I went to this house is not for sale tour and it was phenomenal. But the chemistry was lacking with the bandmembers. Sometimes the harmony was coming from the other keyboardist ( who I do not know his name ) who was across the stage behind him!! Not even similar to the days of Richie and Jon singing from the exact same microphone next to one another where you can feel it. Days of when it was moving. The chemistry that was just authentic. These new guys, sure they’ve been here awhile now, but it just is not the same. Just isn’t. That concert was the first time I felt disappointed after a concert. It was the “Jon Bon Jovi” show, not a Bon Jovi show.

    So, I still will always be a fan and can’t imagine my life without Bon Jovi, but I long for a reunion. Need them to be adults, put on their big boy underpants, and put aside old differences. If not for the band, for the fans.
    My 2 or 3 cents. :)



Thanks for giving me your time.