It’s been a rough stretch of road for Richie Sambora: a divorce last year, a breakup this year, and now a trip to detox last week to deal with his drinking.
“I was just drinking too much, and I needed to get my life back together,” he told TODAY co-host Matt Lauer in the Plaza outside the show’s studios, during a break in an early morning concert Bon Jovi put on for thousands of fans.
“A week did it?” Lauer said.
“I’m still in therapy and stuff like that,” the guitarist said. “I’m great. I feel fine.”
That was all he had to say on the subject, but Jon Bon Jovi filled in the blanks for his friend and fellow band member.
“We’ve been through everything together, and there was no way that we were not going to be there supporting Richie right now, and that’s what we’re doing,” Bon Jovi said. “You know, it’s one day at a time like everything else. He’s been through the fire, and we’ve been there for him.”
In April, Sambora’s 12-year marriage to actress Heather Locklear ended in divorce; the couple has one daughter, Ava Elizabeth, born in October 1994. The divorce papers had been filed in February 2006, and Sambora had been dating actress Denise Richards (“Wild Things,” “The World is Not Enough”), a friend of Locklear’s. But that relationship ended in March.
At the same time the divorce was being finalized and he and Locklear were still negotiating custody of their daughter, Sambora’s father died of lung cancer.
Early this month, the 47-year-old rocker checked into a treatment center at the UCLA Medical Center. A week later, he checked out.
“I checked into detox,” he told Lauer. “I didn’t check into rehab.”
There won’t be much rest for Sambora, who replaced Bon Jovi’s original guitarist, Dave Sabo, in the early 1980s. Before that, Sambora had played with Joe Cocker and had auditioned with Kiss.
Both Jon Bon Jovi, whose family name is Bongiovi, and Sambora are Jersey guys. The band’s other members are David Bryan, Tico Torres and Hugh McDonald. Bon Jovi has sold more than 40 million albums in the United States and 120 million around the world.
Their new album, “Lost Highway,” has a Nashville influence, which Lauer suggested some fans might find sacrilegious.
“It sounds like us,” said Sambora. “It’s just really good songs. It’s well-crafted songs and I think people are gonna dig the songs.”
The crowd outside the TODAY studios, estimated by Lauer to be perhaps the largest in the history of the show, was in rabid agreement.
The band has a 10-day gig in New York and will embark on a world tour in January.