He stepped in when the duo’s record label told them they couldn’t use the title because George Lucas had trademarked the Star Wars word.
And it took just one call from the singer to turn things round.
Big Kenny Alphin and John Rich co-wrote the song Born Again with Bon Jovi and Richie Sambora, during which the title “Hillbilly Jedi” came up.
Rich tells Billboard: “I don’t remember who actually said it first, but I remember Jon Bon saying: ‘If I ever saw a couple of hillbilly Jedis it would be you knuckleheads.’ The title just kind of stuck.
“But the label said, ‘We’re going to run this by our legal department – the word ‘Jedi’ is owned by George Lucas. Sure enough, legal says, ‘No, they can’t use that.’”
Bon Jovi sorted it out during a phone call, says Rich: “Kenny called Jon and told him. Jon said, ‘Hang on a second, I’m going to call George.’ Kenny says, ‘George who?’ and Jon says, ‘George Lucas, dude.’
“He calls George at a race car event in Morocco and says, ‘Hey man, my buddies Big and Ruch want to called their record Hillbilly Jedis. Would you do me a favour and be cool about it, and let them call it that?’
“George said, ‘I have not problem – but it’s not Jedis. There’s no ‘S’ in Jedi ever. It’s singular and plural, like deer.’
“Next day we got a paper from New York saying, ‘You guys can use it.’”
Richie Sambora is featured in the current edition of Classic Rock in which he discusses how his Bon Jovi bandmates didn’t visit him in rehab, among other topics.
-Classic Rock Magazine