Songs You Didn’t Know Richie Sambora Co-Wrote for Bon Jovi

Bon Jovi is one of the biggest-selling bands of all time, with certified album sales of more than 89 million (at the time of this writing). Because the band shares its name with the lead singer, the contributions of the other members can sometimes get overlooked. Guitarist Richie Sambora has been a co-writer on almost all of the group’s big hits, though, as well as on many other songs.

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Beginning with their third album, Bon Jovi kicked off a string of seven straight Top Ten hits on Billboard‘s Hot 100 that Sambora had a hand in writing.

1. “You Give Love a Bad Name”

Written by Jon Bon Jovi, Desmond Child, and Richie Sambora

The first single from the album Slippery When Wet went all the way to No. 1. It was originally recorded by Bonnie Tyler under the title “If You Were a Woman (And I Was a Man)” with different lyrics. Desmond Child re-wrote the song with the Bon Jovi band members.

Shot through the heart
And you’re to blame
You give love a bad name (bad name)
I play my part and you play your game
You give love a bad name (bad name)

2. “Livin’ on a Prayer”

Written by Jon Bon Jovi, Desmond Child, and Richie Sambora

Considered the band’s signature song, “they continued”Prayer” was a continuation of the proven formula of writing with hitmaker Desmond Child. His success with KISS, Billy Squier, and Cher was just the beginning, as he would go on to write or co-write hits with Joan Jett, Mötley Crüe, Aerosmith, Kelly Clarkson, and Michael Bolton. “Livin’ on a Prayer” stayed at No. 1 for four weeks.

We’ve gotta hold on to what we’ve got
It doesn’t make a difference if we make it or not
We’ve got each other, and that’s a lot for love
We’ll give it a shot
Whoa, we’re halfway there
Whoa oh, livin’ on a prayer
Take my hand, we’ll make it I swear
Whoa oh, livin’ on a prayer
Livin’ on a prayer

3. “Wanted Dead or Alive”

Written by Jon Bon Jovi and Richie Sambora

Jon Bon Jovi has said this song was inspired by “Turn the Page” by Bob Seger. It “only” reached No. 7 on the Billboard Hot 100, but it would be certified quadruple platinum by the RIAA in 2015.

[RELATED: Richie Sambora Hints at Bon Jovi Reunion: “We’re Talking a Bit”]

Sometimes I sleep, sometimes it’s not for days
The people I meet always go their separate ways
Sometimes you tell the day by the bottle that you drink
And times when you’re alone, well, all you do is think

I’m a cowboy
On a steel horse I ride
I’m wanted (wanted), dead or alive
Wanted (wanted), dead or alive

4. “Bad Medicine”

Written by Jon Bon Jovi, Desmond Child, and Richie Sambora

The follow-up album to Slippery When Wet was simply titled New Jersey. And the lead single brought Desmond Child back into the fold. The result was two weeks at No. 1 with “Bad Medicine.”

Sambora said it was about a relationship: “I was just drawn to this woman—sexually, physically, and mentally—but it was bad. It was bad medicine, but that’s what I wanted. I wanted some more of it.”

I don’t need no needle to be giving me a thrill
And I don’t need no anesthesia or a nurse to bring a pill
I got a dirty down addiction that doesn’t leave a track
I got a jones for your affection like a monkey on my back
There ain’t no paramedic gonna save this heart attack

5. “Born to Be My Baby”

Written by Jon Bon Jovi, Desmond Child, and Richie Sambora

The original recording of this song was acoustic-driven. Producer Bruce Fairbairn convinced the band to re-record it with electric guitars. The result was a No. 3 hit. The music video’s ending depicts Bon Jovi band members cheering and hugging each other—this was when the band learned New Jersey was the No. 1 album in the United States.

Rainy night and we worked all day
We both got jobs ’cause there’s bills to pay
We got something they can’t take away
Our love, our lives

6. “I’ll Be There for You”

Written by Jon Bon Jovi and Richie Sambora

Sambora stated that the inspiration for this song was the same relationship that sparked “Bad Medicine.” Not to be confused with the theme from the TV show Friends that was released by The Rembrandts in 1995, the Bon Jovi song went to No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100.

I’ll be there for you
These five words I swear to you
When you breathe, I wanna be the air for you
I’ll be there for you
I’d live and I’d die for you
I’d steal the sun from the sky for you
Words can’t say what love can do
I’ll be there for you

7. “Lay Your Hands on Me”

Written by Jon Bon Jovi and Richie Sambora

Sambora has said most of Bon Jovi’s songs started with a title, but this one was built off a guitar riff. It was written in the studio while recording the album New Jersey. Dolly Parton covered the song on her 2014 album Blue Smoke. She said, “I just thought, Wow, that would make a fantastic gospel song.”

If you’re ready, I’m willing and able
Help me lay my cards out on the table
You’re mine and I’m yours for the taking
Right now the rules we’ve made are meant for breaking

What you get ain’t always what you see
But satisfaction is guaranteed
They say what you give is always what you need
If you want me to lay my hands on you

Lay your hands on me

Photo by Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

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