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Richie Sambora has unexpectedly bloodletting third solo album coming.
FILE/Jaime Green/Wichita Eagle
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BY AUGUST BROWN
Los Angeles Times
The lowest moment of Richie Sambora's life was the night in 2008 when he was arrested for DUI with his then-10-year-old daughter, Ava, in the car.
Only a year after the Bon Jovi guitarist had left rehab for alcohol and pill abuse, he was pulled over in Laguna Beach, Calif., after police saw him weaving on the highway in his Hummer. They booked and released him, and the Laguna Beach police described him as "quiet and cooperative and he didn't cause any problems."
The arrest capped a brutal year of personal trials: his divorce from actress Heather Locklear was finalized, his new relationship with Denise Richards faltered and his father died of lung cancer.
Most famous musicians would go out of their way to hide a night like that. But on Sambora's new, unexpectedly bloodletting third solo album, "Aftermath of the Lowdown," due Sept. 25, he tackles that time in his life with plain-spoken, unsentimental rock music that doesn't whitewash his failings.
"When I fell off that cliff, I realized who I was, unrelated to the band," Sambora said. "I'd started to clean up five years ago, but I slipped, and made those amends. I'm lucky I wasn't a guy who lost his family or relationships."
It's a hard-won record from a very famous guitarist, one now recording for a scrappier, independent label--Silver Lake's Dangerbird Records. Their pairing is exceedingly unlikely, but "Lowdown" could show both parties in a new light: Sambora, ferocious instrumentalist and tough-skinned songwriter, and a Dangerbird Records unafraid to follow its instincts all the way to the doorstep of '80s arena rock.
The first question about "Lowdown"--a collaboration both Sambora and Dangerbird acknowledge was unexpected--is how the two parties ever crossed paths. Dangerbird's Jeff Castelaz, better known for signing the shoe-gazey snarl of Silversun Pickups and the cosmopolitan soul of Fitz & the Tantrums, first heard about the record through Phil Cassens, a mutual friend and fellow cyclist who used to helm A&R at Virgin Records.
Castelaz says a personal connection was probably necessary to deflect his natural skepticism.
"Phil told me about his friend Richie who had a fantastic record," Castelaz said. "But growing up, I was a janitor and swept garbage at an arena where Bon Jovi played. They were a rock 'n' roll hit machine, and my generation railed against those guys."