Lita Ford: An 80s Rock Queen with 21st Century Wisdom

photo credit MJ Kent, 2016

The “Queen of Heavy Metal,” Lita Ford, is coming to Cincinnati’s Taft Theatre this Friday. She is touring with Pennsylvania rock band Halestorm, fronted by female vocalist Lzzy Hale.

The year 2016 in particular has been a busy and regenerative one for Ford. On April 15th she released the her ninth album, Time Capsule, which is based off of two suitcases worth of 24-track analog tapes that had been stored in a closet at her former Turks and Caicos residence. Including artists such as Gene Simmons and Dave Navarro, Time Capsule will be available for purchase in downloadable, digipak and LP versions. 

In March, Ford’s autobiography Living Like a Runaway was also published by Harper Collins. Starting with her early infatuation with hard rock bands such as Deep Purple, Black Sabbath and Led Zeppelin (after attending her first concert at age 13, she promptly decided she also needed a chocolate Gibson SG just like her hero Tony Iommi, to whom she’d be briefly engaged several years later), she takes us on a humorous – and from a 21st century vantage point – at times disturbing journey through her early music career as lead guitarist in the “all-girl jailbait rock band”, The Runaways, which was managed by the eccentric and posthumously infamous Kim Fowley.

After graduating from “rock-and-roll college”, Ford went on to solo success as one of the only female guitar shredders in a sea of big-haired and leather-clad male axe masters who populated Hollywood’s Sunset Strip in the 1980s and early 1990s. Following Out For Blood (1983) and Dancin’ on the Edge (1984), Ford released her biggest selling album Lita (1988), while under the management of Sharon Osborne. This record included the hits “Kiss Me Deadly,” “Falling In and Out of Love” (co-written by Mötley Crüe’s Nikki Sixx), and “Close My Eyes Forever” (a duet with Ozzy Osbourne). 

Following the explosion of the grunge movement in the early 1990s, Ford retired from music and lived in Oregon, Florida and the Caribbean with now ex-husband Jim Gillette and her two sons, James and Rocco. In 2012, Ford returned to the rock scene in full force with Living Like a Runaway. “Mother,” the most well known track from the album, describes her ongoing estrangement from her children (Ford has become a vocal spokesperson on the phenomenon of parental alienation).

“The rock world has evolved into a universal language that’s no longer just for the testosterone-driven. The path is carved, and now it’s free and clear for anyone who wants to walk it,” she writes. Although some might argue that “women who want to rock” have acheived somewhat of a post-feminist moment in the music industry, Lita Ford’s life cannot help but remind us of how far we have come.

See Lita Ford this Friday, April 29th at Taft Theatre.