And then the crap started… especially over who should perform at the induction ceremony. While most fans realise the nomination is for Jon Bon Jovi, David Bryan, Tico Torres, Richie Sambora and Alec John Such, some believe that all five original members shouldn’t rightfully take their place and be celebrated on the night. Most of the raging debate has been over Richie’s departure from the band four years ago – I guess some fans still feel betrayed by this. And yes at the time I was absolutely gutted, I couldn’t believe it was happening to my band! But over the last few years I’ve come to realise there will always be more to the story than we’ll ever know. Richie had his reasons and I don’t believe for one minute he simply ‘didn’t show up to work one day’ as Jon has stated many times now.
When I first heard the news that Richie had officially left the band all I wanted was for him to return especially in time for the Australian leg of the 2013 tour. I couldn’t bear the thought of him not being on that stage – I even started an online petition with friends in the hope the boys would see this and out work out their differences, obviously naive while coming from a place of complete devotion. Over the last four years I’ve ridden the waves of every emotion linked to this situation but being very fortunate to see Richie solo & with RSO 10 times has helped me to realise his departure was a long time coming.
Witnessing Richie live in recent times compared to the last few tours with the band you can see the obvious difference, ‘going through the motions’ is no longer his only option. While I don’t agree with how Richie left mid-way through a tour, I now realise this was a culmination of many reasons/incidents and definitely not a spur of the moment decision. Listening to the last few Jovi albums too is a clear indication his influence was slowly being erased. You also need to factor in the timing of the release and promotion of his third solo album “Aftermath Of The Lowdown” and the band’s 12th studio album “What About Now” – there was a clear overlap as Richie was summonsed back into the band/studio, solo shows/promotions were cancelled then the band album was released and a subsequent tour followed. The days of each band member freely taking time out from the machine were long gone. (Think back to Jon’s solo album and his movies… where band activities were appropriately halted & even encouraged).
In my mind, to believe that Richie shouldn’t take his rightful place at the induction (if it should happen!) is an insult to the band’s legacy and all they’ve achieved over three decades. He is an original & founding member who contributed to their phenomenal success over the years, he was at a time 50% co-writer of all band material and that signature sound. I remember a time when everyone on the planet owned a copy of “Slippery When Wet”, even my brother who promptly re-gifted his copy to me for my 13th birthday but not before defacing it with a few choice phrases. He swore I had a limited edition copy! But I digress… A Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame induction is for many factors including musical influence on other artists, and length and depth of career and body of work, including "innovation and superiority in style and technique” – not for a few albums or tours in the band’s career.
Early on in Richie’s departure we had no official word from either camp, so it was easy and natural to assume what happened but now both have spoken on the issue. I remember a radio (if I remember correctly!) interview with Jon when he was asked about the situation – there was no BS and he was very loving towards his ‘brother’ but now he usually goes with the ‘he just didn’t show up to work one day’ line. Plus he has stated that no-one from the band has heard from Richie, spoken to him or seen him, funny especially since Richie and Hugh have performed together on a number of occasions during this time.
Plus let’s not forget the social media video that Richie & Orianthi recorded to congratulate the boys on the release of a new single (the title track of the band’s current album). But I don’t remember seeing a reciprocal greeting… yes the band’s official twitter account did reply saying they looked forward to hearing RSO’s new record too. Would have been nice if the boys could have recorded a greeting for the release of RSO’s debut EP “Rise” but there’s still time, RSO release EP #2 “Making History” next Friday! Again digressing…
One of the saddest things in all of this was when Jon opened up about how hard the last few years had been for him and he admitted the main catalyst over this testing time was the loss… of owning a football team. Yep, you heard right, the loss of owning a football team, not the loss of his best friend, his right hand man, his co-songwriter etc etc but a bloody football team! Yes Richie made the final decision to leave but surely this loss would be greater than owing a football team. I know, I’ve repeated that a few times now because it still floors me when I think about it. This was a huge turning point for me, I guess I was still holding on to hope, like a classic Jovi track, that things would be OK.
And yes Richie has addressed his departure on occasion, even making a light-hearted joke or two but these jabs are more often than not about himself. This is Richie’s way, he’s always been the comedian, it’s obviously his way of dealing with things and it’s served him well. We have to remember in the end Richie did make a very difficult decision and sure it wasn’t the most popular but it was time he put himself & his family first. Again I will say I don’t agree with how he did ultimately depart but I’d imagine he’d tried before and delivering his resignation to his CEO wouldn’t have been all rainbows and unicorns.
I do have to mention Alec in all this… another original member of the band and there’s huge speculation if he’ll be invited to perform at the induction, after all it’s been over 20 years since we’ve seen Alec on the Jovi stage. In my humble opinion, absolutely Alec should be there but if I could bend the rules slightly I’d have six members at the induction, yep I’d include in-the-shadows bassist Hugh McDonald too. I was privileged to see all six members on stage in Camden, New Jersey in 2001 & meet Alec too… pretty sure it was 2001! Funny that there isn’t a huge outrage/debate about Alec’s departure… maybe it’s just a different time we live in!
So yes I am happy & proud of the boys but in my mind this nomination is shitty timing, they should have been inducted back in 2011. Nowadays I prefer listening to classic Jovi or anything pre 2013. I’m excited for new music, as mentioned RSO will release “Making History” on Dec 15th ahead of a full album in early 2018 and yes I know the band are releasing 2x new singles soon. Of course I’ll have a listen, my 12 year old self demands it!
Good luck boys! xxx
Rock Hall Inductees announced Wednesday December 13th
RSO “Making History” EP released Friday December 15th