Lita Ford

Lita Ford is a British-born, American musician, who was the lead guitarist in the all-girl hard rock band The Runaways.


Lita Ford was born on September 19, 1958 in London, England, and grew up in Los Angeles. She became the lead guitarist in the all-girl hard rock band The Runaways, whose debut album was released in 1976. With their punkish sound, provocative stage outfits and rebellious lyrics, the band shocked many in the rock world, and achieved mild popularity until they broke up in 1979. Ford then enjoyed a successful solo career in heavy metal, with such hits as "Kiss Me Deadly" and "Close My Eyes Forever."

Early Life

British-born, American rock musician. Carmelita Rossana Ford (known as Lita) was born on September 19, 1958, to a British father and an Italian mother in London, England. When Ford was four, her family emigrated to the United States, eventually settling in Los Angeles. She began playing guitar at the age of 11, and joined her first band as a teenager.

At age 16, Ford auditioned for a part in the all-girl rock band, The Runaways. Produced by Kim Fowley, The Runaways was a mix of teenage sex appeal and punk rock. Guitarist and vocalist Joan Jett and drummer Sandy West were impressed by Ford’s talent, and made her the group’s lead guitarist. The Runaway’s lead singer was Cherie Currie, and Jackie Fox played the bass. The band released their debut album in 1976, to the confusion and criticism of the rock world. Many critics considered them stereotypical “wild girls.” Despite this, the mere existence of an all-girl metal band was groundbreaking, and the group was successful in Japan.

Born on September 19, 1958, in London, England, Ford learned to play guitar around the age of 10 or 11. She joined her first band as a teenager, performing at local parties in Long Beach, California. In 1975, Ford auditioned for what would become the all-girl rock band The Runaways. She impressed guitarist and vocalist Joan Jett and drummer Sandy West with her musical skills, and they made her the group's lead guitarist. Cherie Curie served as the group's lead singer and Jackie Fox played the bass.

The Runaways released their self-titled debut album in 1976. With their punkish sound, provocative stage outfits, and rebellious lyrics, the band shocked and confused many in the rock world. Other bands and some critics did not take them seriously because of their young age and their gender. The group was groundbreaking for the time, and American audiences weren't sure what to make of them. In Japan, however, The Runaways enjoyed some success.

Solo Career

When The Runaways broke up in 1979, Ford took voice lessons and supported herself with various odd jobs, working as a fitness instructor and a perfume saleswoman. She broke into heavy metal again in 1983 with her solo album Out for Blood, followed the next year by Dancin' on the Edge. Little was heard from Ford for the next few years, until her most successful album to date, Lita, was released in 1988. By this time, pop-metal had broken through to mainstream audiences, and Ford's popularity skyrocketed. Produced by Mike Chapman, the album featured Ford's first hit, "Kiss Me Deadly.' She scored her first Top Ten single with the ballad "Close My Eyes Forever," a duet with Ozzy Osbourne.

Ford's success was short-lived, and she stepped out of the spotlight for more than a decade. In 2009, however, she re-emerged with her studio album Wicked Wonderland. That year, Ford toured with the heavy metal band Queensryche. In 2010, a film based on The Runaways was released, with actress Scout Taylor-Compton playing a fictionalized Ford. In post-film interviews, Ford denied the possibility of a Runaways reunion.

Personal Life

Ford's success in the late 1980s was celebrated with a marriage to W.A.S.P. guitarist Chris Holmes. The couple divorced after two years. In 1994, Ford married singer Jim Gillette from the band Nitro. The couple had two sons together: James, born in May 1997, and Rocco, born in June 2010. The family moved to Turks and Caicos in the Caribbean, where Gillette started a successful building and real estate business. For the decade that Ford was off the scene, she devoted her time to her family, homeschooling her children for a number of years.

In early 2011, news broke that Ford and her husband were getting a divorce after 16 years of marriage. According to Ford, her difficult divorce helped inspire her new album, Living Like A Runaway—Ford originally planned to title the album "The Healing"—which is slated to be released in June 2012.

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