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 the Long Beach, California.
Inspired by Ritchie Blackmore's work with Deep Purple, she began playing the guitar at the age of 11. Her vocal range is mezzo-soprano.
The Runaways (1975-1979)
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.
Solo career (1980-1995)
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 Mötley Crüe. 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.
Long hiatus (1996-2007)
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 almost fifteen years later.
Return to stage (2008-present)
In June 2008, Ford reemerged 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 the New York City area. 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 analog 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.
Iommi co-produced her album The Bride Wore Black, an album 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.
In a February 2011 radio interview, Ford acknowledged that she and Gillette were divorcing. The family were in negotiations for a reality TV show, tentatively titled The Gillettes: An Extreme American Family on TLC. The couple's impending divorce ended any plans for the television show. 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 reality show with TLC executives, and returned home to find her husband and sons not speaking to her.
She claimed that her sons physically attacked her, encouraged by Gillette, after which she decided to divorce him. In 2013, Ford referred to her ex-husband as a "control freak" and commented that Gillette had turned the children against her because she had taken a trip to speak to TLC executives about the impending reality television show deal. She stated that because she had taken control of the show, Gillette turned the couple's children against her, threatening that Ford was going to do harm to the children. 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.”
- Yakety Yak, Take it Back (1991) ... Herself
- Trash Talk (1992) ... Herself
- Out for Blood (1983)
- Dancin' on the Edge (1984)
- Lita (1988)
- Stiletto (1990)
- Dangerous Curves (1991)
- Black (1995)
- Wicked Wonderland (2009)
- Living Like a Runaway (2012)
- Time Capsule (2016)