Lita Ford at Jones Beach 2012
|Lita Rossana Ford|
19 September 1958 |
London, England, United Kingdom
|Origin||Los Angeles, California|
|Genres||Glam metal, heavy metal|
|Labels||Mercury, RCA, JLRG Entertainment, SPV/Steamhammer|
|The Runaways, Joan Jett, Ozzy Osbourne, Cherie Currie, Lemmy|
Lita Rossana Ford (born 19 September 1958) is an English-born American rock guitarist, actress, vocalist and songwriter who was the lead guitarist for the Runaways in the late 1970s before embarking on a solo career in the 1980s.
Lita Ford was born to an English father and an Italian mother in London, England. When she was in second grade, she moved with her family to the United States, eventually settling in Long Beach, California.
In 1975, at age 16, Ford was recruited by recording impresario Kim Fowley to join the all-female rock band he was assembling called the Runaways. The band soon secured a recording contract and released their first album in 1976. The band garnered significant media attention and The Runaways became a successful recording and touring act during their late 1970s heyday. Ford's lead-guitar playing became an integral element of the band's sound until their eventual break-up in April 1979.
In 1977, internal conflicts were erupting within the Runaways, who had by that time already parted ways with producer Fowley, lead singer Cherie Currie, and bassist Jackie Fox. Vocalist/guitarist Joan Jett wanted the band to shift to a more Ramones-influenced punk rock sound, while Ford and drummer Sandy West wanted to continue playing the hard rock-oriented songs the band had become known for. With neither faction willing to compromise, the band finally broke up in April 1979.
Following the breakup of the Runaways, Ford set about launching a solo career. Her debut solo album, entitled Out for Blood, was released in 1983 and was a commercial disappointment. Her next release, Dancin' on the Edge (1984) achieved moderate success and Ford's popularity began to rise. Dancin' on the Edge included the single "Fire in My Heart", which reached the Top 10 in several countries outside the United States. The follow-up single, "Gotta Let Go", performed better, reaching number one on the Mainstream Rock charts. Ford said in an interview that she recorded an unreleased album with RCA Records, and Tony Iommi didn't perform on it.
Ford signed with RCA Records, hired Sharon Osbourne Management, and re-emerged with a more radio-friendly pop-metal sound. In 1988, she released her most commercially successful album, the self-produced Lita. The album featured several singles including "Kiss Me Deadly", "Back to the Cave", "Close My Eyes Forever", and "Falling in and Out of Love", a song co-written by Nikki Sixx of Mtley Cre. The ballad "Close My Eyes Forever", a duet with Ozzy Osbourne, remains her most successful song, reaching No. 8 on the US Billboard Hot 100.
Ford followed up the success of Lita with the album Stiletto (1990). Stiletto featured the singles "Hungry" and "Lisa" (a song dedicated to her mother). However, the album failed to match the success of her previous release. Ford's next release was Dangerous Curves (1991), which featured her last charting single to date, "Shot of Poison". Ford's final album prior to a lengthy recording hiatus was Black on the German ZYX Records.
By the mid-1990s, Ford placed a reduced priority on her music career as she turned her attention towards raising her two young sons. Following the release of Black in 1995, Ford did not release new material until the Wicked Wonderland album in 2009.
In June 2008, Ford re-emerged with a new band with Stet Howland (WASP) on drums, playing several warm-up gigs under the moniker Kiss Me Deadly prior to Rocklahoma in Pryor, Oklahoma. In June 2009, she toured the United States and Europe with a new line-up on her last 14 shows consisting of former Guns N' Roses guitarist Ron 'Bumblefoot' Thal, drummer Dennis Leeflang, and Deepfield bassist PJ Farley.
After a long recording hiatus, Ford released the new album Wicked Wonderland on 6 October 2009, on the JLRG Entertainment label. In an interview with ExclusiveMagazine.com, Ford spoke about her new material: "I just wanted to kick ass! I don't know what's popular, or the flavor of the day. I just wanted the music to rock! The lyrics are very personal and that's it. I wasn't going to come out in sandals with hairy armpits!".
In May 2011, Ford promised to release a "real comeback album" later in the year with drummer Chuck Spradlin, saying that 2009's nu metal-inspired Wicked Wonderland, was too much of a collective project with ex-husband Jim Gillette. "A lot of people have told me that they want a real Lita Ford album, and I know what they mean. They are going to get it", she was quoted as saying at the time.
The album Living Like a Runaway was released in June 2012 on SPV/Steamhammer Records. True to her word, the album was much more in line with her earlier work. The title is also celebratory, as Ford had recently settled differences with her former Runaways' bandmates. In 2013 Lita was awarded by Guitar Player Magazine The Certified Guitar Legend Award.
In 2016, Ford released the album Time Capsule - a collection of songs she discovered on old analogue tapes from the 80s featuring recordings she'd made with Billy Sheehan, Gene Simmons, Bruce Kulick, Robin Zander, Rick Nielsen, Dave Navarro, Rodger Carter and Jeff Scott Soto.
In the mid-1980s, Ford was briefly engaged to guitarist Tony Iommi of Black Sabbath. She admitted in her autobiography that Iommi was very physically abusive towards her during the relationship on multiple occasions.
Iommi co-produced her album The Bride Wore Black, which was never released. Ford said in a 1989 interview with Kerrang! magazine that "there's a certain amount of bad blood between Tony (Iommi) and I". Ford was married to W.A.S.P. guitarist Chris Holmes in the early 1990s for a short time; the pair divorced and Ford began dating former Nitro vocalist Jim Gillette in 1994. The couple were married after knowing each other for only two weeks. They have two sons, James and Rocco Gillette. The family moved to Turks and Caicos, where Gillette operated a small building and real estate developing business.
Her husband had been in negotiations for a reality TV show, tentatively titled The Gillettes: An Extreme American Family on TLC. In a March 2011 interview on the Classic Rock Revisited website, Ford claimed that she had taken a business trip to Los Angeles to discuss the show with TLC executives, and returned home to find her husband and sons not speaking to her. She stated that because she had taken control of the show, Gillette turned the couple's children against her, claiming that Ford was going to do harm to the children. She claimed that her sons physically attacked her, encouraged by Gillette, after which she decided to divorce him. In a February 2011 radio interview, Ford acknowledged that she and Gillette were divorcing. The couple's family problems ended any plans for the television show. Due to this, Ford has become an advocate for the awareness of parental alienation.
In 2016 Ford published her autobiography, Living Like a Runaway: A Memoir, through Dey Street Books. Rolling Stone called the book "Fearless. ... A vivid account of life as 'the one-and-only guitar-playing rocker chick who could shred like I did.' ... A fast-paced read... and an inspiring one."
During her solo career, Ford endorsed musical instrument manufacturer B.C. Rich and exclusively used several of the brand's guitars, most notably the Warlock. The 1992 TV series Howie, starring Howie Mandel, saw Ford as a regular guitarist for the house band. Ford also had a small role in the 1992 horror/comedy film Highway to Hell playing a character called "The Hitchhiker". Ford was also asked by VH-1 to join the cast of the seventh season of the reality television program The Surreal Life in 2007. She declined.
Ford contributed her likeness and voice to the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 and PC video game Brtal Legend. She appears as the character Rima, alongside Jack Black, Tim Curry, Ozzy Osbourne, Rob Halford and Lemmy Kilmister. Her song "Betrayal" is also one of the 100 songs that appear in the game.
In 2010, a major Hollywood motion picture chronicling the career of Ford's first band, The Runaways, was produced. Ford was portrayed by actress Scout Taylor-Compton in the movie, entitled The Runaways. Ford is featured extensively in the 2005 documentary film Edgeplay: A Film About the Runaways, in which she spoke candidly about her time in the all-girl band. Among other things, she alludes to verbal and sexual abuse endured by the band members at the hands of their management, specifically Kim Fowley.
In 2013, Ford reunited with former Runaways bandmate Cherie Currie to record a Christmas single. The single ties into work Currie and Ford are both doing on behalf of Toys for Tots, a charity run by the US Marine Corps, which gives holiday toys to children of need.
Ford released her autobiography Living Like A Runaway in June 2016.