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Lost Highwaytour, end of show, XCEL Energy Center, St. Paul, MN, March 2008.Phil Griffin



Conversations with Phil Griffin




“Whole Lot of Leavin’” portrait session, Minneapolis, MN, March 17, 2008.Phil Griffin


When you have a song that becomes a part of people’s lives, forever marking memories, it’s nothing short of magic. It’s the closest thing to immortality we’ll ever know.




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Lost Highwaytour, Richie Sambora’s guitar rack, 2008.Phil Griffin


It’s cold in Minnesota. It’s February 2007, a drafty hotel room, a tour-weary rock star and a somewhat juvenile British photographer. The guy behind the lens just wants to take a portrait. As with all life studies, you hope to capture the truth of the man. It’s different if the subject happens to have endured a million clicks and flashes over twenty-five years at the top of his game. I can’t help thinking it’s the last thing Jon Bon Jovi wants to do right now.

But ever the professional, Jon endured. Looking back to where this all began, it’s funny how one photograph, a stolen moment really, touched a nerve, inspired faith, and created an understanding between us. With that one image, never planned but always hoped for, Bon Jovi and I began a journey—a journey that has been inspiring, exciting, exhausting, and, at times, frustrating. Lets face it: You don’t simply go on the road with one of the biggest bands in the world and expect to be given free rein. Or do you?

The joke out on the tour was always that whenever I had my camera in my hand, I somehow slipped into an invisible cloak—like some lens-toting Frodo Baggins with his magic ring. For whatever reason, Jon just didn’t see me, Richie simply smiled, Tico winked, and Dave snarled his best keyboard king snarl.

It is the willingness of Jon, Richie, Tico, and Dave to let me in, let me be there, and let me take these pictures that has created the new material for this book. It is exciting for me to see the new and old share these pages. I hope it offers both a new perspective and a proud record of the past. It is, of course, both an honor and a responsibility, and I am doubly grateful that my pictures sit alongside the iconic images by Olaf Heine, Cynthia Levine, Mark Weiss, and all of the contributors to this anthology.

After our long trek on the Bon Jovi trail, making this book has taught me why this band is what it is. Why they have endured, why they are loved. It’s simple, really; they are a family.

Jon is a complicated fellow. Watching him as I have had to do has felt a little bit like spying on your brother. Not always comfortable, but a guilty pleasure nonetheless. It is Jon’s tireless drive and complexity that create such a perfect foil for Richie’s infectious enthusiasm. To my mind, this is what makes these guys such great partners. I am proud to have been let into just a small part of that very private brotherhood.

Watching this band thru a lens has been a great way of focusing on where their trust in each other was born. To me it comes from the avenues and alleyways of Jersey, in the bars and clubs of the neighborhoods of their youth. It’s in the fabric of the walls in Jon’s studio on the banks of the Navesink River. It’s in the strings of Richie’s guitars and in the backbone of Tico’s godfather-like presence at the back of the stage. These guys, much misunderstood but always steadfast in their identity, knew what their bottom line was—trust each other, tight-fist the world, and no one can break the circle.

I hope these pictures throw a light onto that truth. Each one has been chosen with care and pride. That’s what these guys do to you: They make you care, make you want just a little bit of that brotherhood, a small slice of the family pie that is the Bon Jovi way.

Talking of bottom lines, for me a truly great picture is indeed a stolen moment, a piece of a soul that once taken can never be given back. I am proud that Jon and his band have trusted me enough to let me steal pieces of their hearts to share with you.

—Phil Griffin, 2009


Lost Highwaytour set lists, denoting which guitars Richie needs for which show, 2008.Phil Griffin





“Whole Lot of Leavin’” portrait session, Minneapolis, MN, March 17, 2008.Phil Griffin


As far as I’m concerned, the world began when Sinatra swooned, Presley swayed, the Beatles sang, “She Loves You,” and the Stones flaunted their sympathetic devil-may-care swagger. The rest of it just sort of happened.

Since the beginning of the rock ‘n’ roll era, the idea of being in, or around, a band gave you license to thrill, if not the masses then yourselves.

In a band, you always felt invincible. Why? Because you knew you were among brothers, comrades, gang members. And if you dared, if you believed, you were Rock Stars.

Any successful musician will tell you it takes equal parts talent, sweat, and swagger to make up the magic formula. Sure, there are ups and downs at every level of your career. But over time those ups and downs become memories, and as you look back on them (like the old pictures your mother drags out at Christmas) all the old hurts somehow feel better and the story seems to shine brighter.

In any successful band, there has to be a lot of chemistry. Sinatra had Tommy Dorsey, then Nelson Riddle. Hell, he had the Rat Pack. Elvis had D. J. Fontana, Scotty Moore, then the Colonel and the Memphis Mafia. Paul had John, George, and Ringo. Mick had Keith and Charlie. Well, you get the idea. Me? I had Tico, I had David, and I had Richie.

For twenty-five years, Richie Sambora has been my right hand—the brother, partner, and friend you hope to one day find from the time when you’re a kid. I tell people—and I mean this as the highest compliment—you would be lucky to call him your friend. He has the talent and desire that set him apart from the average guy slinging a six-string around. Sure, there are loads of guys who can play. There are lots of guys who can sing. But there is—and only ever will be—one Richie Sambora.

In any band, each member has a job to do. Tico Torres not only holds the bottom down sonically but has, for a long time, been the voice of reason—the elder statesman, if you will. He once said to me, “You know I love you. I’ve been watching your ass for the last twenty-five years.” He has watched me guide this ship’s course since its inception. He had the faith to leave a successful band with a recording contract for a kid, a garage, and a dream. I hope he thinks it was worth it. I’m sure glad he chose to come along.

David Bryan has played in bands with me, on and off, since I was sixteen. I remember his father had a van and he had a Hammond B3. Dave might have been seventeen when we first played together. I like to bust him because he’s twenty-two days older than I am. He’s old. He’s also a very funny guy who has added his share of fun to our mix. Now he’s a big shot on Broadway, and of course he won’t need us anymore. At least I can say, “I knew him when …”

I felt a lot of reservations about doing this book and filming this movie. Why? Because I’ve always said our book isn’t written yet. I may have been at this for a quarter of a century, but in a lot of ways I feel like we’re just getting started. One thing we don’t do around here is glide.

OK. I’ll admit it. We actually enjoy what we do for a living. We make records. We sing for thousands of people every night. What’s not to love? Each other? Maybe, some nights. But I’ll tell you what. I can say something bad about one of my guys and that’s OK. If you try it, I’ll knock you out.


Lost Highwaytour, XCEL Energy Center, St. Paul, MN, March 2008.Phil Griffin


I’d like to thank so many people here on this page—like Paul Korzilius. P. K. has done everything as a manager that a client or friend could ever ask for. He doesn’t know the meaning of the words “can’t,” “won’t,” or “no”—unless he has to say them to the promoter or record company. Sometimes I think he does it just for fun. There is a reason theLost Highwaytour was the biggest tour in the world for 2008: Paul Korzilius.

Hugh McDonald has played bass for me longer than there’s been a Bon Jovi. He actually played on “Runaway” when I didn’t have a band. He was the obvious and only choice to tour with the band after Alec John Such’s departure in the mid-90s. It’s Hugh and Tico’s chemistry that makes us sound so good. And, truth be told, it’s Hugh and Tico in my monitors every night. No need for much of anything else.

Jerry Edelstein is by trade an attorney, but to me he is a father, a brother, and the reason we are who and what we are. He is the Godfather—not only to my firstborn but to me. I wish any kid who starts in this business the blessing that you might find your own Godfather to protect you in this wicked world.

Jack Rovner took this vision and made it a reality. Every idea needs someone to implement it and make it better than it was when it was conceived. Jack did that. It has been his diligence that made this film and book possible. If he keeps opening doors for us, we’re not shy, we’ll walk right in.

And then there are the fans of the band. Every band says they owe it to their fans, but in our case it couldn’t be more true. We didn’t have the media on our side. We didn’t have the machine. We had—and still have—you, the generation that came up with us and the generation you’ve passed our music on to. Thanks for giving me the opportunity to write this down, twenty-five years in—and counting.



Lost Highwaytour, Twickenham Stadium, London, England, June 28, 2008.Phil Griffin

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