Lita Ford

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Lita Ford
Lita Ford playing a guitar onstage
Ford performing in 2012
Background information
Birth nameLita Rossana Ford
Born (1958-09-19) September 19, 1958 (age 65)
London, England[1]
OriginLong Beach, California, U.S.
  • Musician
  • singer
  • songwriter
  • Guitar
  • vocals
Years active
  • 1975–1995
  • 2008–present
Formerly ofThe Runaways

Lita Rossana Ford (born September 19, 1958)[7][8] is an American guitarist, vocalist, and songwriter. She was the lead guitarist for the all-female rock band the Runaways in the late 1970s, and then embarked on a successful glam metal solo career that hit its peak in the late 1980s. The 1989 single "Close My Eyes Forever", a duet with Ozzy Osbourne, remains Ford's most successful song, reaching No. 8 on the US Billboard Hot 100.[9]

Early life[edit]

Ford was born to Harry Lenard Ford and Isabella Benvenuto in London, England; her father was British and her mother was Italian.[10] When she was in second grade, she moved with her family to the United States, eventually settling in Long Beach, California.[11][12]

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.[13]

Music career[edit]

The Runaways (1975–1979)[edit]

Ford performing with The Runaways in 1976

In 1975, at age sixteen, Ford was recruited by recording impresario Kim Fowley to join the all-female rock band 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.[14]

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.[15] With neither faction willing to compromise, the band finally broke up in April 1979.[15]

Solo career (1982–1995)[edit]

In 1982, Ford signed with Mercury Records and set about launching a solo career. Her debut solo album, Out for Blood, released in 1983, 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. Ford said in an interview that she recorded an unreleased album with RCA Records, and Tony Iommi did not perform on it.[11]

Ford performing on 19 December 1988 in the 'Olympiahalle' venue of Munich, West Germany

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, 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.[9] 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.[citation needed]

Long hiatus (1996–2007)[edit]

By the mid-1990s, Ford had turned her attention towards raising her two young sons, causing her music career to become less of a priority. Following the release of Black in 1995, Ford did not release new material until Wicked Wonderland in 2009.

Return to stage (2008–present)[edit]

In June 2008, Ford re-emerged with a new band with Stet Howland (W.A.S.P.) on drums, playing several warm-up gigs under the moniker Kiss Me Deadly prior to Rocklahoma in Pryor, Oklahoma.[16] In June 2009, she toured the United States and Europe with a new line-up on her last fourteen shows, consisting of former Guns N' Roses guitarist Ron "Bumblefoot" Thal, drummer Dennis Leeflang, and Deepfield bassist PJ Farley.[17][18]

After a long recording hiatus, Ford released Wicked Wonderland on 6 October 2009, on the JLRG Entertainment label.[19] In an interview with, 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!"[20]

Ford performing on 27 June 2009

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 collaborative 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.[21]

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.[22] During 2014, she was bestowed with The Certified Legend Award by Guitar Player.[23]

In November 2014, Heaven Below guitarist Patrick Kennison joined Ford's band.[24]

In 2016, Ford released Time Capsule, a collection of songs she discovered on old analogue tapes from the 1980s, featuring recordings she had made with Billy Sheehan, Gene Simmons, Bruce Kulick, Robin Zander, Rick Nielsen, Dave Navarro, Rodger Carter, and Jeff Scott Soto.[25]

Personal life[edit]

In the mid-1980s, Ford was briefly engaged to guitarist Tony Iommi of Black Sabbath.[26] Iommi co-produced her album The Bride Wore Black, which was never released. Ford said in a 1989 interview with Kerrang! that "there's a certain amount of bad blood between Tony and I". She claimed in her autobiography that Iommi was very physically abusive towards her during the relationship on multiple occasions.[27]

Ford was married to W.A.S.P. guitarist Chris Holmes in the early 1990s for a short time. After the couple divorced, Ford met 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. The family moved to Turks and Caicos, where Gillette operated a small construction and real estate development business.[28]

The marriage to Gillette began to crumble after he entered into negotiations with TLC for a reality TV show, tentatively titled The Gillettes: An Extreme American Family. 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.[29] Ford also claimed that Gillette turned the couple's children against her by insinuating that she was going to do harm to them, after she had assumed a greater level of control in the proposed series.[30] She subsequently claimed that Gillette began encouraging her sons to physically attack her, a situation which prompted her to seek a divorce.[31] In a February 2011 radio interview, Ford acknowledged that her marriage to Gillette was indeed over,[32] ending any plans for a television series. Following the end of her relationship with Gillette, Ford became an advocate for the awareness of parental alienation.

In 2016, Ford published her autobiography, Living Like a Runaway: A Memoir, through Dey Street Books. In the book, Ford claimed that she left The Runaways temporarily in 1976, after coming to the conclusion that her bandmates "were all gay", a situation she didn't feel comfortable with. She wrote that she found it "strange" that they never spoke about boys with her and were "always giggling about other girls".[33]

Acting and other projects[edit]

Ford performing with Patrick Kennison

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", and played herself in a 1993 episode of Fox comedy television series Herman's Head.[34] 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, to which she declined.[35] Ford contributed her likeness and voice to the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, and PC video game Brütal 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-female 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.[citation needed]

In 2013, Ford reunited with former Runaways bandmate Cherie Currie to record a Christmas single.[36] The single tied into work Currie and Ford both have done on behalf of Toys for Tots, a charity run by the US Marine Corps, which gives holiday toys to children of need.[37]

Ford appeared on the May/June 2013 cover of Making Music Magazine to discuss her life and career.[38]

In 2014, Ford narrated The Life, Blood, and Rhythm of Randy Castillo.[39]

Ford competed on the reality cooking show Chopped in hopes of raising $10,000 for her charity.[40] Ford made it through the first round, but was eliminated in the second round.

Ford released her autobiography Living Like a Runaway in June 2016.[41]

In 2018, Ford and Jim Cara started Lita Ford Guitars, creating guitars and experiences for fans and players.[42]



Year Film Role Notes
1978 Rock 'N Roll Sports Classic Herself
1991 Highway to Hell The Hitchhiker
1992 Howie Herself
1993 Herman's Head Herself
2005 Edgeplay Herself
2011 Big Time Rush Herself
2016 Indeed commercial Herself/Music Teacher commercial

Video game[edit]

Year Game Role Notes
2009 Brütal Legend Rima

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Lita Ford Biography". Archived from the original on 12 May 2016. Retrieved 18 May 2014.
  2. ^ McPadden 25 September 2015, Mike. "The Hair Metal 100: Ranking the '80s Greatest Glam Bands—The Final 20!". VH1 News. Archived from the original on 29 June 2022. Retrieved 1 March 2021.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: numeric names: authors list (link)
  3. ^ Phillips, William (2009). Encyclopedia of heavy metal music. Brian Cogan. Westport, Connecticut. p. 96. ISBN 978-0-313-34801-3. OCLC 475534546.{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: location missing publisher (link)
  4. ^ Popoff, Martin (2014). The big book of hair metal : the illustrated oral history of heavy metal's debauched decade. Minneapolis, MN. pp. 49, 57, 144, 188. ISBN 978-1-62788-375-7. OCLC 891379313.{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: location missing publisher (link)
  5. ^ Weinstein, Deena (2015). Rock'n America : a social and cultural history. Toronto. p. 223. ISBN 978-1-4426-0015-7. OCLC 883939738.{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: location missing publisher (link)
  6. ^ "The Runaways - A Punk Rock History". Retrieved 31 October 2011.
  7. ^ "Lita Ford." Contemporary Musicians. Vol. 9. Detroit: Gale, 1993. Gale Biography In Context. Web. 24 August 2011.
  8. ^ "Lita Ford." Almanac of Famous People. Gale, 2011. Gale Biography In Context. Web. 24 August 2011.
  9. ^ a b "Lita Ford". Retrieved 3 November 2019.
  10. ^ Ford, Lita (23 February 2016). Living Like a Runaway: A Memoir (First ed.). Dey Street Books. ISBN 9780062270641.
  11. ^ a b Eddie Trunk. "ET- Lita Ford – The Eddie Trunk Podcast". Retrieved 20 November 2015.
  12. ^ Ramirez, Carlos (25 April 2012). "Lita Ford on Her Wild Teenage Days in '70s Southern California". Noisecreep. AOL Inc. Retrieved 10 June 2012.
  13. ^ Martin, Bill (2002). Pro Secrets of Heavy Rock Singing. Sanctuary Publishing. p. 9. ISBN 1-86074-437-0.
  14. ^ "Lita Ford looks back on The Runaways' breakup: "We were going in different musical directions"". Brave Words.
  15. ^ a b Sherman, Dale. 20th Century Rock And Roll: Women In Rock. Collector's Guide Publishing, Inc, p53
  16. ^ "Eddie Trunk". Archived from the original on 27 September 2011. Retrieved 9 October 2011.
  17. ^ "Guns N' Roses Guitarist Bumblefoot To Tour With Lita Ford". 9 June 2009. Retrieved 20 November 2015.
  18. ^ "Lita Ford Tour History from 2008 to 2016: Lita Ford Past Tour Dates". Retrieved 20 November 2015.
  19. ^ Price, Jason (12 November 2008). "Lita Ford: The Next Chapter In Her Rockin' History". Retrieved 14 March 2010.
  20. ^ Russell A. Trunk. "Desert Island Diva!". Exclusive Magazine. Retrieved 5 September 2010.
  21. ^ "Lita Ford: New Video Interview Posted Online". Roadrunner Records. Archived from the original on 12 September 2012. Retrieved 28 December 2012.
  22. ^ Greg Prato (18 June 2012). "Album Premiere: Lita Ford, 'Living Like a Runaway'". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 28 December 2012.
  23. ^ "The 2014 Guitar Player Hall of Fame Awards". 17 November 2014.
  24. ^ Jay Nanda. "San Antonian Patrick Kennison new guitarist for Lita Ford". Retrieved 7 November 2014.
  25. ^ "Lita Ford Is Bringing Back The '80s with 'Time Capsule'". 3 March 2016. Retrieved 8 May 2017.
  26. ^ "Lita Ford History: Sleaze Roxx". Archived from the original on 12 August 2011. Retrieved 26 July 2011.
  27. ^ Pasbani, Robert (15 February 2016). "Lita Ford Alleges BLACK SABBATH's Tony Iommi Physically Abused Her During Their Marriage In New Tell-All Book". Metal Injection. Retrieved 27 December 2023.
  28. ^ "Colonies and Territories". 20 March 2009. Archived from the original on 23 August 2011. Retrieved 9 October 2011.
  29. ^ Wright, Jeb. "Nightmares & Dreams both Come True: An interview with Lita Ford". Classic Rock Revisited. Archived from the original on 15 October 2011. Retrieved 13 March 2018.
  30. ^ "Lita Ford Plays Wikipedia: Fact or Fiction?". 5 November 2013. Retrieved 18 May 2014.
  31. ^ "Lita Ford interview". Classic Rock Revisited. Archived from the original on 15 October 2011. Retrieved 9 October 2011.
  32. ^ "Lita Ford interview". 26 January 2011. Archived from the original on 5 February 2011. Retrieved 9 October 2011.
  33. ^ Brekke, Kira (29 February 2016). "Lita Ford Reveals She Quit The Runaways Because Her Bandmates 'Were All Gay'". Retrieved 3 November 2019.
  34. ^ "Lita Ford | Actress, Composer, Music Department". IMDb.
  35. ^ "Lita Ford 'Turned Down' Chance to Appear in 'Surreal Life'". 26 June 2006.
  36. ^ Lita Ford & Cherie Currie – 2013 Christmas single, The Guardian, 27 August 2013.
  37. ^ "Rock pioneer Lita Ford to shred at Naperville's Last Fling". Daily Herald. September 2015.
  38. ^ "Lita Ford: Rock and Roll Moms". 1 May 2013. Retrieved 11 September 2014.
  39. ^ "The Life, Blood and Rhythm of Randy Castillo". Retrieved 3 November 2019.
  40. ^ "Rock Stars: Chopped". Food Network. Retrieved 20 November 2015.
  41. ^ Ford, Lita. "Living Like a Runaway – Lita Ford – Hardcover". HarperCollins US.
  42. ^ Ford, Lita (4 April 2018). "Interview: Lita Ford talks new tour, music and career highlights". AXS (Interview). Interviewed by AXS. Archived from the original on 27 March 2019. Retrieved 27 March 2019.

External links[edit]