The guitarist quit the group in the middle of its 2013 tour, reportedly because he wanted to spend more time with his daughter.

The remaining Bon Jovi stars pressed on without Sambora, recruiting collaborator Phil X to fill the void, and while frontman Jon previously admitted losing his longtime pal from the line-up was tough, he has since fully moved on from the drama.

In a new, candid chat with U.S. breakfast show Sunday TODAY with Willie Geist, the singer maintains he has nothing but love for Richie, but that chapter of the band is now firmly in the past.

"What was then, was then. And what is now, is now," he explains in the interview, which airs this weekend (12Mar17). "You've never heard me say a bad word about the guy, I love him to death, but there was no way that I was going to be hindered by his departure."

Jon's remarks emerge weeks after he confessed Richie's departure cost him his voice once the tour ended, because when he was finally able to sit back and reflect on the line-up change, he realised it was like losing a brother.

"I couldn't (even) sing in the shower!" he told the Financial Times in January (17). "I'm not exaggerating. I couldn't f**king sing."

"He was my brother, my best friend," he sighed. "We were very similar. We still are very similar. We both wrote lyrics, we both wrote music, we both sing. The same. We just complemented each other."

Bon Jovi released its 13th studio album, This House Is Not for Sale, in November (16), marking the rockers' first project without Sambora.