Credit: James Minchen IIIBon Jovi guitarist Richie Sambora has put his old band behind him and is focusing on a new musical partnership with his current girlfriend, Australian guitar whiz Orianthi. Sambora tells ABC Radio that he’s in the middle of recording a new album that will be a duets project with the 30-year-old Aussie musician.

“It’s going so good, man,” he declares. “It’s not what people are gonna expect. I think they’re gonna expect this, like, giant guitar record, which [it’s] a little bit of that but, no, it’s just great songs and her and I singing together…So, it’s kind of like Sonny & Cher on steroids.”

Sambora says he met Orianthi at a charity show Alice Cooper organized in Hawaii when she was playing in the shock rocker’s band. Richie recalls that he and Orianthi ended up dueling together on a marathon version of Jimi Hendrix‘s “Voodoo Child.”

“The chemistry was something like I’d never felt before in my life,” he admits, adding that he went on to invite her to tour with him throughout the summer last year.

That chemistry has carried over to the recording project. Sambora says he’s blown away by Orianthi’s guitar skills, but points out that they’ve connected in other musical areas as well.

“It’s a unique situation, because she arguably can be the best female guitarist on the planet, and on any given night she could be the best [guitarist],” he maintains. “But…what [people] don’t know is that she sings really well and she’s also a writer, so when we started to get together and doing that, we just never stopped.”

He also says that, vocally, he and Orianthi sound great together. “Our voices are very sympathetic to each other, and it’s really powerful,” Sambora notes. “It’s better than I thought it was gonna be and I thought it was gonna really good.”

Sambora reveals that the upcoming album, which he’s co-producing with acclaimed keyboardist and arranger Michael Bearden, also will feature a variety of respected session musicians and guest artists. They include longtime Rolling Stones touring bassist Darryl Jones, drummer Abe Laboriel Jr. of Paul McCartney‘s backing band and Living Colour drummer Will Calhoun. In addition, Richie says he’s planning to have such musical friends as Stevie Wonder, Buddy Guy and, possibly, Gregg Allman contribute to the sessions.

As for the sound of the record, Sambora says it will include a variety of styles, from guitar-driven rock to acoustic ballads to danceable tunes that incorporate industrial beats.

“It’s a new sound,” explains Richie. “That’s what I was searching for as a producer, something that people weren’t used to hearing before.”

Sambora says he expects the album to be ready for release after “the first of the year,” and he’s planning to bring Orianthi out on the road to support the project.

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