JAM Magazine Main Features

Lita Ford - Rock 'N America 2010

Ford Runs Away

Without a doubt Lita Ford, born Carmelita Rosanna Ford to a British mother and a Mexican-Italian father in London, England, is the sexiest, hottest female rocker to ever put on a pair of black leather pants. She moved with her family to the United States at age 4, and began playing the guitar at age 11 to mimic her hero, Black Sabbath’s Tony Iommi.

Ford first gained media attention when the 16-year old bombshell joined the all-girl band, The Runaways. From 1975 until they folded in late 1979, the group released four studio albums and one live LP, which Ford always considered the Runaways best recording. The band (also featuring Joan Jett) toured the United States, Europe and Japan playing a brand of rock – mixed with punk – that no one had seen any females play before. In Japan, the band was treated like royalty. Unfortunately, in the eyes of the press, The Runaways were often referred to as teenage jailbait on the run. It eventually led to their demise.

With her music career seemingly over at age 20, Lita worked various menial jobs until one day she ran into Eddie Van Halen. Their brief conversation turned into a serious lecture from the guitar hero. He told Ford to quit wasting her talent, pick up the guitar and take music seriously again. Taking the advice to heart, Ford picked up her guitar, formed a band, signed a deal with Mercury Records, and in 1983 released her first solo album, Out for Blood. The original artwork on the album cover had an almost nude Lita holding a strategically placed, bloodied guitar in front of her. The album was promptly banned from stores.

In 1984, Ford released her second album, Dancing on the Edge with a new lineup. By this time, she was engaged to her guitar idol, Tony Iommi, and appeared with him on MTV’s Guitar Heroes concert.The same year, Lita received her first Grammy nomination for "Gotta Let Go". She began writing her third album, The Bride Wore Black when she broke off her two-year engagement to Iommi. The album never saw the light of day due to the record company scrapping the music because they deemed it too heavy. Fed up with the label dictating her career, Ford severed her ties with Mercury and brought in Sharon Osbourne to manage her career. The relationship paid immediate dividends. In 1988, the blonde bombshell released Lita, featuring “Kiss Me Deadly”, her smash duet hit with Ozzy Osbourne. The album also contained another Ford gem, “Close My Eyes Forever,” and would go on to sell over a million units in the U.S. alone. She toured the U.S. opening for red-hot Poison and overseas with an even hotter Bon Jovi.

In 1990, Lita met W.A.S.P. guitarist Chris Holmes at the Rainbow in Hollywood, and the two married in June of that year. Ford released Stiletto which included a touching tribute to her mother, "Lisa" and a surprising remake of the Alice Cooper classic, “Only Women Bleed.” After a year of marriage to Holmes, it was over. Lita threw all her energy into her next project, Dangerous Curves. The song was written specifically for the guitarist by Sammy Hagar, and though the tune never made it on the album, its title did. The guitarist received another Grammy nod, this time for Best Rock Vocal Performance by a Female for her song “Shot of Poison” from Dangerous Curves. Later that year at a Dallas nightclub, Lita met ex-Nitro vocalist Jim Gillette. Two weeks after their initial introduction, a smitten Gillette had a plane fly overhead – while they were sipping cocktails – that read “Rosanna, I love you. Marry Me.” She did just that.

In 1995, the newlyweds entered the studio and came out with Black. With her husband providing background vocals (and why not, with a six-octave range that can shatter glass and hold a C sharp for 32 seconds), the album had a rawer sound not heard since Lita’s Dancing on the Edge album. After a brief tour, a now pregnant Ford retired from the music business and moved to a Caribbean island. In 2008, with the blessing of her husband and two sons, Ford came out of retirement to play a handful of dates in the U.S. This led to the guitarist releasing her first album in 14 years, Wicked Wonderland.