Lita Ford is a rock guitar legend. Twice Grammy-nominated for the Best Rock Vocal Performance, with a Platinum record to her credit, she began her career in the mid-1970s at the age of 16 in the all-female band, The Runaways, that included rocker Joan Jett. With a resume spanning over forty years, she is still a tireless performer who maintains a vibrant touring schedule. Stay Thirsty Magazine caught up with her on the road between tour stops for this Conversation.

Living Like A Runaway - Lita Ford

STAY THIRSTY: In your memoir, Living Like A Runaway, you let people into a life that some might say is best described by the lyrics of your song: “I was running crazy, I was running wild. / Living on the edge, yeah, I was living in style.” Is that how you would sum up your life in rock n’ roll? Is that how you see yourself now?

LITA FORD: It sure was back in The Runaways days … and early Lita days, my life was running wild, crazy, and living in style, didn't know where I was gonna go, all I knew is that it was far, far away. My mother would call me on the phone and say, “Lita, you just kick ass those people,” with her thick Italian accent. No matter where we were ... country or state. I can still hear my Momma say, “Run Baby Run.”        

The entire album was based around my life at the time, going through a horrible divorce and losing my kids to the legal system for money. My ex paid them off and they took my sons away from me, as described in the song, “Mother.”        

Parental Alienation is legal because there is no end of cash flow for the attorneys if you want your children … if you don't have the money, you find a way to get it.        

We also lived on a 36-square-mile deserted island in the Bermuda triangle in a house I called “The Asylum.” The entire album was my life and my divorce. It was a release for me, and it was all the truth. The entire album says it like it was going down …“Hate” … “The Mask” … “The Devil in my head”… was about being brainwashed. My children were brainwashed against me by their father and grandfather … it’s been 8 years, which led me to this song:

Devil in my head
Love don’t come easy for a lonely soul like me
I find myself in trouble on a road of misery
I try to do the right thing, but I’m easily mislead
I’m drawn to the dark side, and the devil in my head.

STAY THIRSTY: From being part of the world’s first major all-female rock group to becoming a platinum-selling solo artist to performing live today after forty years in the business, how have you been able to keep pushing ahead?

Lita Ford
LITA FORD: Rock n’ roll and playing guitar is in my blood. It’s what matters the most to me besides my children. I am a true rocker, male or female, never seemed to matter. The neighborhood kids would come over and watch me play, along with my parents. They never understood how I could play guitar and they couldn’t. I never understood why they couldn't and I could. Ha! Ha! It was a great time in my life.

STAY THIRSTY: As you look back at the others who became legends during the 1980s and 1990s, and who are still making music and filling venues, what are the common characteristics that keep rockers influential and relevant?

LITA FORD: Rock n’ roll is from the heart. It’s something that is a gift from God. If you don't have the heart to learn or the know how to feel it flowing through your blood, then chances are you will be best doing something else in life that does come naturally. Only you know what that is.

STAY THIRSTY: Of all the male musicians, from the Ramones to Van Halen, from Mötely Crüe to Bon Jovi, from Alice Cooper to Ozzy Osborne, which ones treated with the most respect? How difficult was it for a woman to be part of what was clearly a male- dominated industry?

LITA FORD: They all treated me with respect. The Ramones were like my brothers. First tour The Runaways ever did was the Ramones. I remember every word of that tour. It was so awesome!      

Lita Ford - Living Like A Runaway Album Cover

Mötely were a crazy bunch, but Nikki was the leader of the group, he was the creator, and my boyfriend. He treated me good considering we had no money. My dear mother and father took care of us too. She loved Nikki. So did I.        

Bon Jovi was a great tour put together by Sharon Osbourne. The best tour I ever did and Jon was always trying to help in any way he could. A gentleman.

I did a remake of “Only Woman Bleed” by Alice Cooper that was such a great cover. Even Alice thought it was better than his. I loved Dick Wagner and Steve Hunter. The magical duo guitarists Alice had couldn't be beat. They were the best, and trying to copy their guitar parts was no easy task. A lot of fun though.

STAY THIRSTY: Do you feel any difference inside yourself when you are playing your guitar on stage today versus when you were in your early twenties? How has the audience view of you changed over the years?

LITA FORD: Yes and no. Some people are older and not so rowdy. Then some are younger and out of there minds with fun and energy. It’s a great combo. I personally always feel like the music performed during live shows is the magical part of rock n’ roll. Especially being backed with a monstrous band. You can’t help but get that feeling of confidence and power. I know my band has my back and we gel together in a great way live. It’s like some kind of evil dance or songs that make your ears ring for the next three days.  

STAY THIRSTY: Your personal life has had many rocky moments and you have had issues with your sons. How do you deal with the personal emotions of alienation?

LITA FORD: Alienation is pure evil. People talk all they want, but no one could ever understand how painful it is to lose your child unless they have had it done to them. And, the attorneys, who take the money, so one parent could have the children, destroy lives for a few tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars. I couldn't do it for no amount of money. I never knew it existed until he did it to me. His parents did it to him. My parents were married until death, forty-four years. Nothing but love and support in my household growing up, with the best mom and dad in the world. I never knew the legal system was so corrupt. I thought they would help me and my children. The legal system is pure evil. Has it destroyed my life? Lets just say I’m hollow. Except when I play guitar. I’m sure my children are too.

STAY THIRSTY: If you had had the chance to play with one iconic musician that you never met, who would it have been and why?

LITA FORD: Jimi Hendrix. We could have played guitars. I would have loved to have known him. Jimi. His fashion for his clothes, and originality…. Fire on stage. Hell, yes. He was one of a kind. Rest in peace Jimi.

STAY THIRSTY: Do you still feel like the Queen of Heavy Metal?

Lita Ford

LITA FORD: You know it! I am what I am! I’ve got the battle scares to prove it and the knowledge to stand tall and show off with my band backing me. We are rolling thunder. I am the first Lady of Rock Guitar … an icon … and rock royalty. Even when I am dead I will always be the first. One and only which will go down in history long after I’m dead. My legacy will still live on. If not for me kicking in the damn doors when people told me “No, girls can’t do that,” I know they weren't talking to me! Now there will be others to walk that path.

(Lita Ford photos credit: Dustin Jack)


All opinions expressed are solely those of its author and do not reflect the opinions of Stay Thirsty Media, Inc.