Richie Sambora Loves That a Classic Bon Jovi Song Inspires Ukrainians: 'These People Have Heart'

Fresh off his appearance on the U.K. version of The Masked Singer, the rocker talks to PEOPLE about his new music and how touched he is that people find courage in his hits

LOS ANGELES, CA - JANUARY 14: Musician Richie Sambora joined President Bill Clinton and Kobe Bryant at the grand opening of STEP UP ON VINE on January 14, 2013 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images for Global Philanthropy Group)
Photo: Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty

Richie Sambora is on the brink of releasing new music, but the Bon Jovi rocker is taking time to reflect on the impact that his classic songs have made.

Last March, within weeks of Russia's Feb. 24, 2022, invasion of Ukraine, a video of citizens in Odessa preparing to defend their country emerged. As they filled sandbags on a beach, loading them onto a truck, they sang along to Bon Jovi's 2000 hit, "It's My Life," which was blasted out while a drummer kept time on site.

"I am proud to be a part of the writing," Sambora, 63, tells PEOPLE about the song he co-wrote with Jon Bon Jovi. "Those songs were about the way we grew up, and it just transpired to be songs that inspired people to be themselves and to take strength.

"What I found in Ukraine is that these people have heart. … They're defending their families, their sovereignty as a country, their elders, their mothers and fathers, and the children that are the future. And that's a lot of heart."

HOLLYWOOD, CA - DECEMBER 01: Musicians Richie Sambora and Jon Bon Jovi perfom during the MasterCard Priceless Los Angeles Presents GRAMMY Artists Revealed Featuring Bon Jovi at Paramount Studios on December 1, 2012 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Jesse Grant/Getty Images for MasterCard)
Richie Sambora performing with former bandmate Jon Bon Jovi. Jesse Grant/Getty

Sambora adds, "I've done so many tours around the world and all the countries that I've visited, the people are always sweet, beautiful. Throughout the 40 years that I've been doing that, I've found that human beings have this common humility and compassion for each other, and they don't want to attack."

The New Jersey native, who has Polish roots, is coming off a high after performing on the U.K. version of The Masked Singer in January. Sambora thrilled British TV viewers by singing Elvis Presley's "Viva, Las Vegas" while concealing his identity underneath a jacket potato costume.

He says, "It was a very challenging thing to do, and I had the best time. And the chaotic secrecy that goes on within the show … I had no idea who I was singing with or against or anything." He adds, "I just wanted to go sing and it was the craziest thing I did in the entertainment business in my life."

richie sambora Masked Singer UK
The moment Richie Sambora's identity was revealed on The Masked Singer in the U.K. ITV

Fans of Sambora won't have to guess his identity this spring when he releases new solo music. "I'm hoping the end of March or beginning of April," he says of its timing.

He's also hopeful that Bon Jovi will go on another tour. Sambora left the band in 2013 after 40 years, but he's onboard with a reunion. "We're obviously talking about it," he says.

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"For me, I feel a spiritual obligation to the fans around the world. And, also, to say thank you to God and the universe for giving me such an amazing life; the opportunity to go out and make people happy with what comes naturally to me.

"I think that I was born understanding that language, the international language of music."

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