Country duo Big & Rich returns %u2014 with some help

Associated Press Modified: September 21, 2012 at 7:30 am •  Published: September 21, 2012

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — After a five-year break, Big & Rich are putting the funny back in country music — with the help of Jon Bon Jovi and Richie Sambora.

The unlikely quartet gathered to write two songs for the country duo's new album, "Hillbilly Jedi," after they struck up a friendship a few years back.

"It was a great experience and we actually owe them a lot just in mentorship," John Rich said. "We don't have a ton of mentors. I would say Bon Jovi qualifies."

Along with the songs "Born Again" and "Can't Be Satisfied," Bon Jovi also assisted in saving the album's title and theme when the duo realized "Star Wars" creator George Lucas would probably object. It turned out to be no problem — after Bon Jovi stepped in.

"So he pulls out his cellphone, calls him and says, 'George, my buddies want to call their new album 'Hillbilly Jedis.' Is that OK?'" Rich said. "And he goes, 'Yeah, that's cool, but there's no such thing as jedis. Jedi is like deer; it's plural and singular. So if they do it, it's got to be 'Hillbilly Jedi.'"

Lucas' gift helped preserve the twisted little heart of the duo's first album in five years. During their time apart, both released solo albums and had children. Big Kenny Alphin traveled the world and worked with children's charities. Rich became a reality television star by winning "Celebrity Apprentice" and joining on as a mentor on "The Next."

The time away allowed them to recharge their creativity and hone their songs, sometimes over the course of years.

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