- - Monday, November 12, 2012

On his new solo album, Richie Sambora has a lot to say about his past. But after two vigorous months of promoting it, the Bon Jovi guitarist found himself on doctor-ordered vocal rest.

The 53-year old rocker canceled a string of shows in the Northeast because of laryngitis, but he’s ready to return to the stage Tuesday in Los Angeles in support of “Aftermath of the Lowdown.” He plans to donate and match a portion of ticket sales to the Red Cross to help with Superstorm Sandy relief efforts.

Last month, he told The Associated Press that the experience is much different than promoting an album from his band, Bon Jovi.

And it all comes down to talking.

“I’m used to the first eight questions going to Jon, and now I have to be ready for all of them,” Mr. Sambora joked.

True to its title, “Aftermath of Lowdown” covers a lot of personal ground for the rocker, including his much-publicized divorce from Heather Locklear, his ongoing battle with alcohol and substance abuse, and the virtues of being a parent.

“It’s the kind of stuff that a lot of people go through, so I decided to write about it,” Mr. Sambora said.

Mr. Sambora said one of the lowest moments in his life came when he was arrested in 2008 for DUI with his 10-year old daughter Ava in the car. He calls that incident a turning point in his life

Since kicking his dependency on alcohol and prescription painkillers, Mr. Sambora admits everything in his life has fallen into place. He now enjoys a good relationship with Miss Locklear as they work together to raise their daughter.

“She’s a teenager now and needs two parents,” Mr. Sambora said. “So we do a lot of things as a family.”

$40M in damages cut by half for ‘Girls Gone Wild’ creator

A judge has cut by more than half the $40 million jury verdict that casino mogul Steve Wynn was recently awarded against “Girls Gone Wild” founder Joe Francis.

Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Joanne O’Donnell issued the ruling Friday, reducing the award by $21 million. Her ruling eliminates $20 million in punitive damages the jury granted Mr. Wynn and $1 million they said he deserved because of comments Mr. Francis made on “Good Morning America.”

The ruling only affects damages awarded in the case and preserves the jury’s determination that Mr. Francis defamed Mr. Wynn on three separate occasions, including on ABC’s national morning show.

Mr. Francis vowed to appeal the remainder of the verdict.

“Judge O’Donnell committed a judicial error by allowing this case to even proceed to a trial, and she knows it,” Mr. Francis said. “This is only the first step of her backpedalling and unwinding her illegal actions in order to try to keep her job as a judge.”

Mr. Francis’ lawyers also have argued the statements on “Good Morning America” were not part of the initial case and shouldn’t be included in the judgment.

The trial, which ended in September, centered on Mr. Francis’ repeated claims that he was told Mr. Wynn had threatened to hit him in the head with a shovel and have him buried in the desert. Mr. Wynn denied making such threats and claimed they damaged his reputation and put his casino license at risk.

Mr. Francis testified that he heard about the claims from Grammy-winner Quincy Jones, who told the jury that no such statements were made.

Mr. Wynn’s attorney, Mitchell Langberg, said the casino executive was not disappointed by the ruling. “Steve Wynn is very happy with a $19 million compensatory damages award,” he said.

Mr. Langberg said the ruling upheld the jury’s determination that Mr. Francis made untrue statements about Mr. Wynn, confirming “what the case was about.”

Judge O’Donnell’s ruling states that the jury had no evidence to support awarding punitive damages in the case. “The jury’s punitive damage award was speculative and clearly the result of the jury’s dislike of the defendant and/or his businesses,” the judge wrote.

Mr. Wynn is the CEO of Wynn Resorts Ltd. and designed Las Vegas’ Mirage, Bellagio, Wynn and Encore casinos. After the trial, Mr. Wynn called Mr. Francis a “digital assassin” and said he hoped the large verdict would discourage others from taking what he described as cheap shots.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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