Singer. Songwriter. Guitarist. Author. Trailblazer. Icon. Guitar Player Certified Guitar Legend 2014 award winner. Lita Ford is all of those and so much more. From being a teenager playing lead guitar in the groundbreaking band, The Runaways, to Top 10, GRAMMY® nominated solo artist, her career trajectory has been one of never settling, never compromising, and always staying true to herself.
Born in London, growing up between her parents’ house in Long Beach, California, and the Sunset Strip in Hollywood, Ford began playing guitar when she was 11 years old; starting out on a nylon-string acoustic that she received as a birthday present from her mother. For Christmas, she received an upgrade: a steel-string acoustic that she played for the next two years. She saved her money from an after-school job to buy a chocolate Gibson SG that finally allowed her to play Black Sabbath and Deep Purple riffs the way they were meant to sound. It was this guitar with which she joined The Runaways, and to this day she recalls the moment when she knew exactly who “Lita Ford – guitarist” would be.
It happened the night she attended a concert by all-female rock group, Fanny. In the latest interview with Gearphoria.com, Ford explains, “I was in the restroom and I heard some girls talking, who were fans at the show. One girl was complaining between the stalls, ‘Did you see that girl play guitar?’ ‘Why?’ Replied the other. ‘She used her pedal more than her guitar.’ Overhearing that conversation obviously planted a seed in my head that said ‘focus on your guitar playing first, the rest will be rewarded to you.” Much later, I rewarded myself with my first pedal, which was a Cry Baby. Here I am, getting ready to join The Runaways, and that stuck with me for some reason. I still think about it. Those girls in the bathroom that night changed my life. For the best, I hope!”
This year has been particularly busy and productive for Ford. In February, she published her long-awaited autobiography, Living Like A Runaway. In April, she released Time Capsule, a compilation of previously unreleased songs from the 1980s that she discovered in a collection of analog tapes in her home. She also spent that month on the road with Halestorm, and saw the release of her longtime friend Ace Frehley’s new album, Origins Vol. 1, which features Ford singing and playing guitar on their cover of The Troggs’ “Wild Thing.”
As always, Ford and her band — guitarist Patrick Kennison, bassist Marty O’Brien, and drummer Bobby Rock — are touring relentlessly. “I know the guys have got my back when we go onstage, and they know I’ve got theirs,” she says. “We’re a good unit.” In addition to headline dates, they performed at the Sweden Rock Festival in June, followed by one show in the U.K., then returned home for more summer and fall concerts. In October, they will rejoin Halestorm. Ford will close out the year working on new material for 2017.
Lita Ford’s life has changed in many ways since that night at the Fanny concert, but over the course of nine solo albums, including a best-of and a live collection, one thing has remained constant: her passion for her craft. While the music industry transitioned in and out of trends, while it continues to shift and fragment, Lita Ford, night after night, continues to plug her B.C. Rich guitar into a Marshall amp, turns it up, and plays her heart out. “They say knowledge comes with experience, and I’m starting to see that now for the first time, which is very cool,” she says. “It makes you feel secure with what you’re doing.”