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Jon Bon Jovi on Richie Sambora leaving the band: 'We didn't anticipate it'

Bon Jovi’s latest tour is a little different from the band’s previous travels around the country. The reason: the absence of Richie Sambora.

This is the first time Jon Bon Jovi and company have kicked off a tour without Sambora, who left the group in 2013. As Bon Jovi recalls it, it was an abrupt departure.

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Jon Bon Jovi on music roots, first tour in 3 years

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Jon Bon Jovi on music roots, first tour in 3 years

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“We didn't anticipate it. There was no fight, it was nothing about anything. He just didn't show up for work,” Bon Jovi told Willie Geist on Sunday TODAY.

The singer has moved on, though he still has a special place in his heart for Sambora. (In other words, he would never give Sambora a bad name.)

“What was then was then and what is now is now,” he said. “You’ve never heard me say a bad word about the guy. I love him to death. But there was no way I was going to be hindered by his departure.”

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Jon Bon Jovi on former bandmate Richie Sambora: I love him to death

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Jon Bon Jovi on former bandmate Richie Sambora: I love him to death

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Neither would his bandmates, including drummer Tico Torres, who said not seeing Sambora on stage every night isn’t such a strange feeling anymore.

“I think it felt really different when we didn’t do the last tour with him. That was a missing link,” Torres shared. “That was hard for all of us because you really ... he was there and then all of a sudden he wasn’t there. But time goes past that.”

RELATED: Jon Bon Jovi's daughter surprises concert audience with onstage dance

For more of Sunday TODAY's conversation with Jon Bon Jovi, including the inspiration behind his band's latest album, “This House Is Not for Sale,” and why he made an obscene gesture to his guitar after his last tour, watch the videos in this story.

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Bon Jovi keyboardist: Performing live is 'the greatest feeling in the world'

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Bon Jovi keyboardist: Performing live is 'the greatest feeling in the world'

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