Richie Sambora apologizes for abrupt Bon Jovi exit, compares it to leaving the mafia

"I guess if you're in the mafia, the only thing you possibly do is disappear. And I did," the rocker says in the band's new docuseries, "Thank You, Goodnight."

Looking back, Richie Sambora regrets the way that he chose to leave Bon Jovi

In the final episode of the new Hulu docuseries Thank You, Goodnight: The Bon Jovi Story, the guitarist apologized for his controversial decision to exit the legendary rock band just hours before they were set to perform in Calgary on their 2013 Because We Can tour. But Sambora also asserted that the group "knew exactly why I didn't get on the plane that night" during his interview for the doc, which premiered Friday.

"People have this preconceived notion of Richie Sambora because they read about me in the tabloids, because they see the Bon Jovi machine," he said. "It's a band. It's really, really hard to be married to four other guys and be in close quarters and that, coupled with my daughter coming of age."

At the time, Sambora, who had previously entered rehab in 2007 and 2011, cited personal issues as the reason for his sudden disappearance, but he later told PEOPLE that the decision came specifically from needing to put his health and relationship with daughter Ava first. So musician Phil X, who filled in for Sambora in 2011, returned to cover the rest of the band’s 2013 tour dates. 

<p>Kevin Mazur/Getty</p> Bon Jovi's Richie Sambora and Jon Bon Jovi

Kevin Mazur/Getty

Bon Jovi's Richie Sambora and Jon Bon Jovi

“I don’t regret leaving the situation, but I regret how I did it,” Sambora clarified in the docuseries. “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.”

Despite a difficult start, the rest of tour went off without a hitch, with the group missing none of their 80 performances. “At the end of the day, there was disappointment and sadness and anger, but it didn’t matter to the public,” frontman Jon Bon Jovi recalled in the docuseries. “It was the number-one-grossing tour in the world that year, and that was that.”

The “Wanted Dead or Alive” singer admitted that he continues to “hold out for hope” that Sambora will one day return. “I think it’s sort of like you’re in a marriage or a family that has a situation like this and you’re always hoping that the family member’s gonna get better and everything’s gonna be peachy," he said.

Jovi also noted that he will always feel a “void” without Sambora on stage beside 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.”

These days, Sambora reflects on his time in Bon Jovi with a sense of pride and accomplishment.

“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!” 

Thank You, Goodnight: The Bon Jovi Story is streaming now on Hulu.

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