Jon Bon Jovi reacts to Richie Sambora’s apology for leaving Bon Jovi, says he ‘came clean’ for band’s fans

Jon Bon Jovi wasn’t exactly surprised by his former bandmate Richie Sambora’s decision to apologize for abruptly leaving their group in Hulu’s new docuseries Thank You, Goodnight: The Bon Jovi Story.

While visiting The Howard Stern Show on Tuesday, the “Roulette” singer was asked if he was at all “shocked” by its final episode, in which Sambora expresses regret over the way he chose to quit Bon Jovi in 2013.

“I don’t know if it was a shock or not,” the frontman replied. “It was 11 years ago now, and it was not easy. The shock was when he didn’t show up, and the issues that he was having again. That was the shock, and then that was the disappointment.”

Jon Bon Jovi and Richie Sambora 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

The Grammy winner added that he viewed Sambora’s apology as the guitarist’s way of clearing the air once and for all. “He came clean in the film for the fans, so I guess it would end all the speculation that there was ever a fight [in the group] or any of that stuff,” he said. “Because — as I’d stated 1,000 times — that was not the case. Just not the case.”

Jon Bon Jovi reacts to Richie Sambora's apology for controversial band exit

Sambora left Bon Jovi overnight, choosing not to rejoin the band at the Calgary stop of their sold-out Because We Can tour in 2013. The band performed that evening with its frontman pulling double duty on guitar and vocals before tapping guitarist Phil X, who had previously covered for Sambora in 2011, to step in for the remainder of the concerts.

At the time, the musician, who entered rehab in 2007 and 2011, cited personal issues for his sudden departure, but he later told PEOPLE that he quit the band in order to focus on his relationship with his daughter, Ava. Still, in Thank You, Goodnight: The Bon Jovi Story, he admitted that vanishing wasn’t the right way to say goodbye.

“I don’t regret leaving the situation, but I regret how I did it,” Sambora said. “So I’d like to apologize fully right now to the fans, especially, and also to the guys, because my feet and my spirit were just not letting me walk out the door.”

He added, “I guess if you’re in the mafia, the only thing you possibly do is disappear. And I did.”

Bon Jovi detailed his own sadness over Sambora’s exit in the docuseries, noting that he still feels a “void” on stage without him. “The true magic of our live performance was when we sang together… that was our unique spot,” he said. “It was as identifiable as any great combination that made one and one three. And I don’t think that’s been replaced, no.”

Jon Bon Jovi reacts to Richie Sambora's apology for band exit

These days, Sambora looks back at his time in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame–inducted group with a sense of pride. “Jon and I touched the planet with those songs. You realize that you were warriors that love each other, watched each other’s backs, told each other the truth,” he said. “If anybody doesn’t think that we were Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, Jimmy [Page] and Robert [Plant], any way you wanna slice it… come on!”

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