Backstage With Bon Jovi

ST. LOUIS, MO (KTVI) – On Thursday night, Bon Jovi is set to take the American Idol stage as the first finalist is voted off. The band has kept busy, releasing its new album on Tuesday, and performing in front of thousands in St. Louis on Wednesday.  All the while, they’re taking time to inspire a younger generation.

At each concert on their “Because We Can” tour, kicked off in February, Bon Jovi gives local college kids behind-the-scenes access as a learning opportunity.

SLU Junior Molly Rippinger is one of the half dozen St. Louis students chosen for the day-long internship. She says it’s given her a whole new appreciation for the hard work that goes into their shows:“ It’s very important to kind of understand how so many people can come together to make one thing happen.”

At each concert, tour managers recruit local students to help with ticketing, the fan club and VIP areas, along with getting to see how a concert of this magnitude is put together.
Bon Jovi Management Coordinator Michael Savas says, “It gives us a fantastic workforce locally, enthusiastic young people who are going to come and work hard.”

Crew Chief Mike Rue adds, “This is not an easy job, it’s not like they pull cables and lift things and throw things, you have to be very computer literate to be out here. There’s a lot of technology that goes on behind the scenes.”

It’s not only the tour managers teaching young people the ropes.  Inspiring new musicians keeps Bon Jovi Lead Guitarist Richie Sambora going strong. It’s a big reason he loves performing on American Idol.

Sambora explains, “I love Idol. Idol is a show that actually really brings quality talent to the world. Right now, it’s a star-maker.”

Here in St. Louis, Sambora reflects on what it’s taken him to get here.  “We’ve been playing a long time,” he says, “St. Louis has always been a great crowd for us. Actually as I was coming here, I was looking at the Arch, I remember the first time I came here I was actually playing with Joe Cocker.”

He was just 19 years old during that first show, and since then, he and his fellow Bon Jovi band members have also performed solo. Now back for his 35th St. Louis show, Sambora says it’s what has kept his iconic rock band going strong.

“You work with different people and you learn new stuff, and you bring it back to the band,” he explains, “It keeps us growing in all different directions. It’s an important ingredient of why we’re still together.”

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