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Richie Sambora says he quit Bon Jovi to be with his family

Richie Sambora says in a new interview that

Richie Sambora says in a new interview that he left rock band Bon Jovi in 2013 to be with his daughter and ex-wife. "That was a time of psychological maintenance for the family." Credit: Getty Images For The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame / Kevin Kane

Former Bon Jovi guitarist Richie Sambora is reflecting on his 2013 departure from the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame band, saying he did it for his family.

"It was a tough decision, man," the 61-year-old co-writer of such hits as "Livin' on a Prayer" and "You Give Love a Bad Name," said in a Zoom video interview posted by People magazine Monday.

"I had to leave that band and then I had to leave my fans, too," Sambora continued, calling it "a decision that had to be made. It wasn't a popular decision, by any means, obviously, but at the end of it there wasn't really a choice. I'm really glad I did it. It's certainly worked for our family," he said of his actress ex-wife Heather Locklear, 59, and their daughter Ava, 23. "Heather's doing very, very well now and Ava's doing phenomenally."

Sambora, whose past substance addiction led to rehab in 2007 and 2011, People said, added in the magazine's accompanying article that when he left Bon Jovi, "That was a time of psychological maintenance for the family. You know, I ain't no angel. But I realized, Ava needed me to be around at that point in time. Family had to come first, and that's what happened."

During the band's world tours, Sambora said, he often would fly home. "I love being a dad more than anything. Luckily I was making enough money to be able to have a private plane, get ... home and see my kid even if it was only for one day. If it was Halloween, it was boom, home."

Ava Sambora, who graduated from Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles in May and plans to attend graduate school, told People that her father "showed up to every dance recital I performed in and all of my school functions no matter how far he had to travel. He even flew all the way from Australia to surprise me at my father-daughter dance."

Former bandmate Jon Bon Jovi has alluded to Sambora's unspecified personal issues as the reason for the split, saying during an interview with the German radio network Rock Antenne in September, "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." He blamed Sambora's "inability to get it together anymore."

"When people say I don't have my life together — are you kidding me?" Sambora retorted to a British tabloid the following month. "I'm the happiest dude on the block."

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