Bon Jovi, Richie Sambora Reunite at 2018 Rock Hall Induction

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Howard Stern inducts Bon Jovi on stage during the 33rd Annual Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony at Public Auditorium on April 14, 2018 in Cleveland, Ohio (Photo: Theo Wargo/Getty Images for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame; used with permission)

Radio host Howard Stern set the tone early for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame’s Class of 2018 induction. The SiriusXM morning host was asked by Jon Bon Jovi to induct his namesake band and Stern delighted the audience on April 14 at Cleveland’s Public Hall with a no-holds-barred speech.

The occasion marked guitarist Richie Sambora’s (temporary) return to the stage with the band. Sambora left Bon Jovi in 2013 and has since been working on his solo career as well as collaborating as one half of RSO, with Australian musician Orianthi.

Stern praised the group that had been eligible for the Hall since 2008. “They’re some of the nicest people I’ve met. No stupid rock and roll attitude. Just humble and gracious,” he said.

Inductees Richie Sambora and Jon Bon Jovi of Bon Jovi perform during the 33rd Annual Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony at Public Auditorium on April 14, 2018 in Cleveland, Ohio (Photo: Kevin Mazur/Getty Images for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame; used with permission)

Stern, naturally, couldn’t resist using his customary “blue” humor. He described Sambora as “one of the most underrated guitar players in the world and the guy with the biggest penis in Bon Jovi. We’re going to be inducting Richie into the penis Hall of Fame next week.”

Stern skewered Rock Hall co-founder Jann Wenner. “Jann Wenner finally let Bon Jovi into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Way to go Jan, Jonny, John, Jann, whatever the fuck your name is. Anyway, Jann, you did it. You finally gave this fantastic band their due. Now, for those of you who don’t know, Jann is the man in charge, but I’m not sure why.

“This guy doesn’t play a musical instrument, he doesn’t have a band, but he did start a great magazine, Rolling Stone. Yeah. And now it’s the size of a pamphlet, what a business plan, way to go. I read it in about 30 seconds backstage. Now, Jann required years of pondering to decide if this glorious band that sold over 130 million albums could be inducted. What a tough decision! ‘Gee, I don’t know if I should let Bon Jovi in? 130 million albums, that’s not such a big deal.'”

In his speech, Sambora said, “If I wrote a book, it would be the best time I ever had.” Bon Jovi added, “I thank my lucky stars for the time I got to spend with each one of you. Tonight, the band that agreed to do me a favor stands before you so I could say thank you for making this dream a reality.”

Related: At the pre-induction press conference on April 13, JBJ said “It’s about f**king time!”

The band then performed four songs with Sambora, the first such occasion since 2013: “You Give Love a Bad Name,” “It’s My Life,” the recent “We Were Us,” and “Livin’ on a Prayer.”

Watch Bon Jovi perform “It’s My Life” at their induction

Watch them close their four-song set with “Livin’ on a Prayer”

At the post-induction press conference, a reporter asked Jon Bon Jovi about future collaborations with Sambora. “I know you’re always thinking about what’s next. Does ‘what’s next’ possibly include Richie now?”

Bon Jovi offered only a brief reply: “I think Richie’s got a solo career, you know? I think you’ll have to ask him.”

Sambora then came to the microphone and gestured to Bon Jovi, saying: “If he asked me,” amid what appeared to be awkward laughter.

[In a Feb. 2023 interview with Absolute Radio, Sambora indicated that a reunion, five years later, was likely. “We’re talking about it. I don’t think there’s any reason not to at this point. We have to get out there and do it for the fans really. I feel a second obligation.”]

The guitarist was asked when he knew the band had made it. “The foundation of it is the songwriting. When you finally learn how to write a song–and it takes a while. Songwriting is about communicating with other people. We became an American rock and roll band with Slippery When Wet.”

Later, Bon Jovi was asked what it meant to get an early break before the band hit it big. “We had a record deal and we were looking for managers,” he said. “One promoter’s way of giving us an opportunity was playing at Madison Square Garden opening for ZZ Top. They gave us a 30-minute slot before the record came out.”

Watch the entire post-induction press conference

Related: Our feature on Bon Jovi’s game-changing “Living on a Prayer”

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