Lita Rossana Ford, popularly known as Lita Ford, is a British-born American guitarist, vocalist, and songwriter, who was the lead guitarist in the all-girl hard rock band, The Runaways, in the late 1970s.Their punkish sound and rebellious lyrics helped them get noticed in the rock world. The band was not able to achieve major success in the United States but earned huge popularity overseas, especially in Japan. After the band split in 1979, Ford embarked upon a successful solo career in heavy metal. She took voice lessons, and released her first solo album ‘Out for Blood’, followed by ‘Dancin' on the Edge’. Both the albums did not receive much success, and Ford just vanished from the rock world for a few years. She returned with a bang with her smashing hit album ‘Lita’, which was released in 1988. The single ‘Kiss Me Deadly’ and the ballad, ‘Close My Eyes Forever’ were both big hits. Unfortunately, her success was short-lived, and she vanished from the industry for several years. She re-emerged with the release of ‘Black’ in 1995, and ‘Wicked Wonderland’ almost 15 years later. Her most recent album ‘Time Capsule’ was released in 2016. She was awarded The Certified Guitar Legend Award by the Guitar Player Magazine.
Childhood & Early Life
Lita Ford was born on September 19, 1958, in London to an English soldier father and an Italian nurse mother. When she was in the second grade, her family moved to the United States and settled in Long Beach, California.
She began playing the guitar at the age of 11 after she was inspired by Ritchie Blackmore's work with Deep Purple.
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In 1975, when Lita Ford was 16, she auditioned for an all-teenage girl band, and was recruited by the organizer Kim Fowley to join the rock band the Runaways. In 1976, the band bagged a recording contract, and released their debut album the same year. Although the media significantly praised the band, and they toured during the 1970s, the album did not pick up enough momentum to succeed.
From 1976 to 1978, the Runaways released four studio albums, but none could make much impact. By 1977, the band was plagued by internal disputes and soon the producer Fowley, lead singer Cherie Currie, and bassist Jackie Fox left the band. All was not well between the other members as well.
While vocalist/guitarist Joan Jett wanted the band to lean more towards Ramones-influenced punk rock sound, Ford and drummer Sandy West, on the other hand, wanted to continue with dominant hard rock songs, which the band was known for. With neither party willing to compromise, the band eventually broke up in April 1979.
After the breakup of the Runaways, Ford started gearing up to launch a solo career. She released her debut solo album ‘Out for Blood’ in 1983; it was a disaster, commercially as well as critically.
She released the album ‘Dancin' on the Edge’ in 1984. It achieved some success and the rock world started recognizing her. The singles ‘Fire in My Heart’, and ‘Gotta Let Go’ performed well on the Top 10 rock charts.
She then hired Sharon Osbourne Management to take care of her recordings. She signed with RCA Records, and came up with a radio-friendly pop-metal sound. In 1988, she released the self-produced album ‘Lita’, which became very successful. The album featured several popular singles like ‘Kiss Me Deadly’, ‘Back to the Cave’, ‘Close My Eyes Forever’, and ‘Falling in and Out of Love.’
She released the album ‘Stiletto’ in 1990, which included singles like ‘Hungry’ and ‘Lisa’, which she dedicated to her mother. However, the album failed to gain success.
In 1991, her next album ‘Dangerous Curves’ was released. It featured the single ‘Shot of Poison’, which was her last single to reach the charts. Her next album ‘Black’ was launched without any impact.
Ford took a decade-long hiatus—from 1996 to 2007—from the music industry. It was a conscious decision, as she wanted to prioritize her family. She had two children in the ensuing years and focused on raising them.
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She released the album ‘Wicked Wonderland’ on October 6, 2009. It was produced by the JLRG Entertainment. In May 2011, she promised to comeback with a ‘Lita’ like album and released the album ‘Living Like a Runaway’ in June 2012. As promised, the album was in line with her earlier work to some extent, but it wasn’t successful. In 2016, Ford released the album ‘Time Capsule’, which again failed to make any impact.
In 2018, she began appearing in an AXS TV series, ‘The Top Ten Revealed’, which features different themes in each episode.
Lita Ford’s second solo album ‘Dancin' on the Edge’ was moderately successful, and one of its singles, ‘Fire in My Heart’, reached the top ten charts in several countries outside the United States. The single, ‘Gotta Let Go’ also did well on the charts, and reached the number one spot on the Mainstream Rock charts.
Awards & Achievements
In 2013, the ‘Guitar Player Magazine’ awarded The Certified Guitar Legend Award to Lita Ford. She was also nominated for Grammy Award in the 1980s.
Ford received the first She Rocks Award in 2017. The award is meant to pay tribute to women who stand out in the music industry.
In mid-1980s, Lita Ford was engaged to guitarist Tony Iommi, who co-produced her album ‘The Bride Wore Black.’ The album was never released and their relationship also didn’t work out.
In the 1990s, Ford married W.A.S.P. guitarist Chris Holmes, but after a short while, they divorced.
In 1994, Ford started dating former Nitro vocalist Jim Gillette. Soon the couple got married after knowing each other for just two weeks. The couple has two sons—James, born in May 1997, and Rocco, born in June 2010. They moved to Turks and Caicos, where Gillette started a small real estate business. For a decade, Ford stayed away from music, as she devoted her time to her family and homeschooled her children for a number of years.
After 17 years of being together, Ford announced that she and Gillette were divorcing in 2011. She claimed that Gillette encouraged her sons to physically attack her, which led to her decision to end the marriage.
Ford’s autobiography, ‘Living Like a Runaway: A Memoir’, was published in 2016. Rolling Stone reviewed the book as being "Fearless”. The autobiography clearly stated her struggle for success in a man’s world. It also revealed certain sensational facts about the Runaways. In an interview, she stated that through her book she reopened the “wound for the world to see.” She narrated how she was physically abused by her idol, Black Sabbath’s Tony Iommi, and how other musicians, who felt insecure about sharing the stage with a woman, threatened her.
In 2010, a Hollywood motion picture was made on the band, ‘The Runaways.’ Scout Taylor-Compton played Ford’s character. Ford was also featured in the 2005 documentary film ‘Edgeplay: A Film About the Runaways’, in which she spoke about how the band management, especially Kim Fowley, verbally and sexually abused the band members.