Lita Ford Biography
This biography written by Debbie Jordan
Lita Rossanna Ford was born in Streatham, London on September 19 1958 and soon moved to Long Beach California with her parents Harry Leonard and Isabella (Lisa) who had met each other during World War 2. Her father was an English Army veteran and Lisa was from Italy.
At age 11 Lita was given a nylon string guitar and taught herself to play along with her favourite records with alot of encouragement from her parents who made her practise when she was lazy. She went to her first concert to see Black Sabbath with her cousin at age 13 and was totally blown away, deciding then and there that was what she wanted to do with her life:- play guitar in a rock band. She continued to play along to her favourites like Black Sabbath, Deep Purple and Jimi Hendrix and got a job at St Marys Hospital near home heating up patients dinners so she could save up $450 to buy a Gibson SG like her hero Toni Iommi played.
Lita went to Long Beach Poly High School and spend a short stint at a more reputable Lake Wood High before returning to graduate at Long Beach. She played bass in a band made up of boys from school who shared her same taste in music.
Word about Lita got round to Kim Fowley who at the time was forming The Runaways and looking for girls who could play instruments. He heard Lita played bass and phoned her up. Lita told him she played lead guitar and he said still come down and audition as The Runaways needed one of them too. Says Lita "My parents told me to go for it. The biggest indication I had that my parents were behind me was when Kim Fowley called me and gave me this bizarre rap about joining The Runaways. I put the phone down, turned to my mother and said 'who is this guy - some kind of pervert?' My mother said. 'go Lita, go down to Hollywood and play with the girls."
So she did and passed the audition only to tell Fowley where to go and quit the band after 2 days because of constant abuse from Fowley and musical differences. The Runaways played a more simpler style of music than Lita was into and she thought all her friends at home would laugh at her for joining such a basic rock & roll band. A week later in October 1975 she returned to the band when Fowley called her up asking her to reconsider cause he was impressed by her guitar playing. She had regretted leaving as she felt good vibes about where The Runaways were going and changed her mind.
From 1975 Lita was in The Runaways until they folded in late 1979. In that time they released four studio albums and one live album which Lita considers their best. The band toured Europe and America many times. In Japan The Runaways were treated like royalty and it was there they enjoyed great success. Lita was an integral part of The Runaways sound with her already stunning guitar playing at age 16 and sexy imposing presence. By their third album Lita was writing her own songs and sung lead on "I'm A Million" from And Now... The Runaways. More information on Lita in The Runaways go here. THE RUNAWAYS
The Runaways called it a day due to the fact they were never taken seriously along with musical differences within the band. Lita wanted to play more heavier music but lost motivation when the band split. Lita played guitar on The Stepmothers album "You Were Never My Age" but otherwise she worked various jobs like selling mens' cologne in a large department store in LA, gas pumper at a Mobil petrol station and as a health instructor. When talking to Eddie Van Halen one day he encouraged her to take her music seriously again, telling Lita she was wasting her talent not playing her guitar so she got together her own band. After trying out male vocalists unsucessfully, she decided to take up singing full time locking herself away in a garage jamming for hours each day trying to strengthen her voice, writing songs and building her dream band of her fronting a female Jimi Hendrix Experience.
In 1983 Lita released her first solo album OUT FOR BLOOD on Mercury Records. At the time she was living with Nikki Sixx from Motley Crue and partying hard. Unfortunately Mercury didn't get behind the album and it made no impact on the charts but made everyone sit up and take notice that Lita could play as well as any male. Majority of the songs were written by Lita alone and featured soaring guitar solos played with alot of feeling and not a flurry of notes which most Metal bands at the time were trying to do. The original artwork on the album cover with Lita dressed in little and holding a bloodied guitar was banned as it was considered too gory and added to the hassles of band members disappearing and managerial problems.
In 1984 she released her second album called DANCING ON THE EDGE with a new band lineup.This time with better production and more promotion Lita toured Europe where the Runaways had a cult following and enjoyed minor success and continuing to establish her name as a guitar player. She was engaged to Toni Iommi from Black Sabbath for 2 years and appeared with him on MTV Guitar Hereos concert but the relationship soured and they split up in 1987.
During 1987 Lita wrote and recorded BRIDE WORE BLACK but it never saw the light of day due to the record company scrapping it for being too heavy. Lita fed up with Mercury dictating to her, severed her ties with the company and brought in Sharon Osbourne as her manager. Together they restructured Lita's career finding a new back up band including a keyboardist and landing a record deal with RCA Records. Lita wrote songs with her rock & roll friends such as Lemmy Kilminster from Motorhead, Nicki Sixx and Ozzy Osbourne along with professional songwriters and went into the studio to record her most commercially sounding record yet.
In 1988 LITA was released spawning 2 major hits "Kiss Me Deadly" which went to #15 and "Close My Eyes Forever", her duet with Ozzy that made it too #8 on the US Billboard charts. Helped by heavy rotation on MTV and loads of positive press the album established Lita as a major star and household name. Lita LP stayed in the charts for 38 weeks in USA reaching #29. Lita landed prestigious tour support slots with major bands at the time like Poison in USA and Bon Jovi in Europe where a home video was recorded of her performance at Wembley Stadium in England in 1989.
At this time she met Chris Holmes from WASP at the Rainbow Bar and Grill. The pair married on 26th June 1990. The follow up to her Lita smash, STILETTO was released in 1990 taking 6 months to write but this album was extremely underrated and never saw the success it deserved. Included on the album was a superb power ballad written for her mother called "Lisa" and a killer cover of Alice Cooper's "Only Women Bleed". At this time Lita was inducted into the Circus Rock Hall of Fame becoming the first female to ever have the honor.
After a year of marriage she split with Chris and Lita threw all her energy in her next album called DANGEROUS CURVES which was a song that Sammy Hagar had written for her. She didn't use the song but kept the title. For the first time Lita shared the guitar work on her record and released a great sounding record which again didn't receive the recognition it deserved as Metal was being pushed aside by the new Grunge movement. Included on this album was "Bad Love" written about her recent marriage split up and a song Lita wrote with Joe Lynn Turner and Richie Blackmore called "Little Too Early". If this song had been released a few years earlier it would have been a massive hit.
In 1992 Lita appeared in US sitcom "Hermans Head" playing herself in a prominant role for one episode called "Love Me Two Timer". She also made a cameo appearance in the feature movie "Highway to Hell" as a hitch hiker and played in the Howie Mandels house band on the CBS show "Howie" and as a celebrity game show contestant on Howard Stern's TV show.
Crate Amplifier seminars kept her busy touring some of USA and Australia and New Zealand..
1993 saw Lita nominated for a Grammy for Best Rock Vocal Performance by a Female for her Shot Of Poison single from Dangerous Curves but lost to Melissa Etheridge.
At a Dallas club called City Limits in 1994 she met ex Nitro vocalist Jim Gillette and they hit it off immediately. Within 2 weeks they were married on 13 May 1994 after Jim proposed to Lita as they sat by a lake sipping cocktails. He arranged for a plane to fly over with a banner trailing it saying "Rossanna I love you. Marry Me".
In 1995 she entered the studio once more and came up with BLACK with Jim helping out on back up vocals and all songs written or co written by Lita. This album marked the return of Lita to playing music she wanted to play and not what everyone wanted her to sound like with heavy emphasis on guitar again and a rawer sound not heard since her Dancing on the Edge album. It was released on the German label ZYX Records and available only thru import.
Around this time Lita sung and played guitar on a Japanese only release of Stairway to Heaven - A Tribute to Led Zepplin covering "Whole Lotta Love" and "Rock & Roll". Also she did a song for the Robocop TV series with Joe Walsh called Future to The Life that appeared on the Robocop soundtrack and was released as a single.
Lita did some Gibson guitar clinics for the new Gibson guitar Night Hawk and formed a new band with her new husband called Rumble Culture with Jim singing and his mates Rodger Carter and Angelo Barbero with Lita on guitar. There were demos recorded but as yet still unreleased. Same goes for demos Lita did with Nile Rodgers in 1998/99 which he produced and co write songs with her.
On Jim and Lita's second wedding anniversary on 13 May 1997 their son James Leonard Gillette was born in Panama Beach Florida weighing 6lb 10oz. Lita has been a dedicated mother ever since and is now (June 2001) expecting their second child soon. They live happily on a Caribbean island and one day when the time is right Lita promises to return with a new CD as she has never stopped writing while out of the public spotlight.
In 2000 GREATEST HITS LIVE was released on Dead Line Music. Included was an unreleased studio track called Nobody's Child recorded in Nashville in 1999 for this CD and features live songs from a 1992 San Juan Capistrano date Lita played. A cover of an old live favourite of Lita, Montrose's Rock Candy finishes the CD.
In the past few years Lita has been seen on VH1 shows like "Before they were Stars", "Top 100 Women in Rock" and "Where Are They Now". Also MTV's "It Came From the 80s".
You can hear Lita next on the soundtrack for the upcoming Runaways documentary EDGEPLAY released in 2002.
Thanks to Debbie Jordan for submitting the biography.
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Love conquers all | Reviewer: Martha Mendoza | 5/25/13
My prayers are with u and ur children. Stay strong. God loves you. He sent Jesus to die on the cross for us. Our sins are forgiven. Love conquers All!! Yourbbeautiful with so many God given talent.
To "anonymous"! | Reviewer: Ashley Lameman | 7/21/11
Where does your "god" loving nasty ass live?? I'm coming to visit & teach you some damn manners! If you had nothing positive to say about the great Lita Ford........then SHUT YOUR MOUTH & MIND YOUR OWN ASSWIPE!
Evil fucken rules!!!!! :)
Lita Ford ♥ | Reviewer: Kristy | 5/24/11
Honestly I have always been a big fan of Joan Jett. I never knew about The Runaways until about a year ago. Now I'm kicking myself in the ass because they were amazing. I may only be 15 years old but I love this genre; Jimi Hendrix, ACDC, Ozzy Osbourne etc. So fuck the anonymous hater, Lita Ford is forever <3
Firestorm starter for all female guitarists | Reviewer: John Connor | 4/8/11
Screw the anonymous reviewer. I've jammed to Lita since she was in The Runaways. Her licks, were as hot then as they are now. Hell yeah she rocked with Ozzy, and the rest of the world! Forever Lita, the first female lead guitar of rock!
Evil | Reviewer: Anonymous | 10/29/10
She's not beautiful and it's sick when people are into evil death music. Something wrong there. Weird world. Evil is not beautiful. How could parents encourage a kid to go into that. Didn't even care that the guy sounded like a pervert on the phone and said she should go, etc. Hmmmmmmm
Lita Ford Review | Reviewer: Genevieve | 4/10/07
My review on Lita Ford? She's one of my main idols. The first song of hers that I ever heard was "Close My Eyes Forever" (her duet with Ozzy Osbourne) because I loved Ozzy's music to death and figured that if he co-wrote it, I'd like it. Well, I heard Lita's voice and decided I'd listen to songs that she did on her own. "Kiss Me Deadly" and "Shot of Poison" are two of the ones I like the best. Her cover of "Only Women Bleed" by Alice Cooper is one the best covers that exists.
And let's face it...she's very beautiful, and she is a guitar goddess!
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