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Richie Sambora on How His Daughter Inspired His Alicia Keys-Assisted Hurricane Sandy Charity Single

Dimitrios Kambouris

“I was watching all of the early reporting on Hurricane Sandy and I thought it would just turn out to be a fraction of what Hurricane Irene was, so once we got closer to it hitting, I was so scared for everyone back home,” New Jersey native Richie Sambora tells Noisecreep about the recent catastrophe in the Northeast. “I had bought my mom a house in Point Pleasant, N.J. many years back, so once it looked like this thing was going to be massive, I moved her 20 miles inland. Her house got trashed, man. It’s unlivable.

“So she moved to California with me. I had just gotten home from a tour for my Aftermath of the Lowdown solo album, and I booked a date in Hollywood and I kicked all of the proceeds to the Red Cross, and I also matched that with my own money. It felt good to give them a big check.”

Before he found fame as the guitarist in Bon Jovi, Sambora cut his teeth playing the vibrant bar and club scene of South Jersey in the late ’70s. Sadly, the area where he once made his living playing covers in a variety of bands, is now mostly unrecognizable.

“The folks from the Red Cross invited me to take a tour of Point Pleasant and Seaside Heights to see all of the damage. I had Access Hollywood with me to basically show people around the country that this was like another Hurricane Katrina. It was heartbreaking. Stuff is just gone. Half of the pier floated away. I think they’re going to have to just relocate a lot of that seaside attractions and homes. The trauma to see your house, your livelihood, gone — I can’t imagine what these people are going through.”

Sambora and Bon Jovi just played Madison Square Garden as part of the 12-12-12 Hurricane Sandy Relief Concert last week and helped raise over $50 million dollars for the cause, but the guitarist isn’t done.

He recently released a special edition of his song “I’ll Always Walk Beside You,” with Alicia Keys as a guest performer on piano. The single is available for download on www.richiesambora.com and 100% of the proceeds from each download will benefit the American Red Cross and the ongoing disaster response and recovery efforts.

“The was the last song that came out of me for this solo album. For her birthday, I had given my daughter [actress Ava Sambora] a photo of the two of us walking together in my old neighborhood in New Jersey when she was around two. I had written on it, ‘I’ll always walk beside you, love Daddy.’ Anyway, I like writing in the bathroom [laughs] and I needed a pen, so I walked into her bedroom and I saw the photo there and the title hit me. So that’s where I got the inspiration for that song.

“Once Sandy happened, I took a look at the lyrics again and I realized that this song was about me walking by my own home state and all of the people I grew up with. I knew I needed to use the song to try and bring more attention to the cause. The way that Alicia got on the song was that she was recording in the same studio and I had worked with her charity, Black Ball, before, so I knew her. Anyway, she ends up playing piano on ‘I’ll Always Walk Beside You,’ but we didn’t have enough time to add that to the version of my solo album. Once this idea for the charity single came up, I went back into the studio and added her stuff to it and I think this new version is even better than the original. It’s more poignant and emotional. It all feels right.”

Pick up the Richie Sambora/Alicia Keys charity version of “I’ll Always Beside You” at richiesambora.com and head over to RedCross.org for more info on how you can help in the Hurricane Sandy relief.

Richie Sambora’s latest solo album, Aftermath of the Lowdown, is available at this link.

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