Lita Rossana Ford (born 19 September 1958) is an English-born guitarist, vocalist, and songwriter. She was the lead guitarist for the all-female rock band the Runaways in the late 1970s, and then embarked on a successful glam metal solo career that hit its peak in the late 1980s. The 1989 single "Close My Eyes Forever", a duet with Ozzy Osbourne, remains Ford's most successful song, reaching No. 8 on the US Billboard Hot 100.
Ford was born to Harry Lenard Ford and Isabella Benvenuto in London, England; her father was British and her mother was Italian. When she was in second grade, she moved with her family to the United States, eventually settling in Long Beach, California.
Inspired by Ritchie Blackmore's work with Deep Purple, she began playing the guitar at the age of 11. Her vocal range is mezzo-soprano.
The Runaways (1975–1979)
In 1975, at age sixteen, Ford was recruited by recording impresario Kim Fowley to join the all-female rock band The Runaways. The band soon secured a recording contract and released their first album in 1976. The band garnered significant media attention and the Runaways became a successful recording and touring act during their late-1970s heyday. Ford's lead-guitar playing became an integral element of the band's sound until their eventual break-up in April 1979.
In 1977, internal conflicts were erupting within the Runaways, who had by that time already parted ways with producer Fowley, lead singer Cherie Currie, and bassist Jackie Fox. Vocalist/guitarist Joan Jett wanted the band to shift to a more Ramones-influenced punk rock sound, while Ford and drummer Sandy West wanted to continue playing the hard rock-oriented songs the band had become known for. With neither faction willing to compromise, the band finally broke up in April 1979.
Solo career (1982–1995)
In 1982, Ford signed with Mercury Records and set about launching a solo career. Her debut solo album, Out for Blood, released in 1983, was a commercial disappointment. Her next release, Dancin' on the Edge (1984) achieved moderate success, and Ford's popularity began to rise. Dancin' on the Edge included the single "Fire in My Heart", which reached the Top 10 in several countries outside the United States. The follow-up single, "Gotta Let Go", performed better, reaching number one on the Mainstream Rock charts. Ford said in an interview that she recorded an unreleased album with RCA Records, and Tony Iommi did not perform on it.
Ford signed with RCA Records, hired Sharon Osbourne Management, and re-emerged with a more radio-friendly pop-metal sound. In 1988, she released her most commercially successful album, the self-produced Lita. The album featured several singles including "Kiss Me Deadly", "Back to the Cave", "Close My Eyes Forever", and "Falling in and Out of Love", a song co-written by Nikki Sixx of Mötley Crüe. The ballad "Close My Eyes Forever", a duet with Ozzy Osbourne, remains her most successful song, reaching No. 8 on the US Billboard Hot 100. Ford followed up the success of Lita with the album Stiletto (1990). Stiletto featured the singles "Hungry" and "Lisa" (a song dedicated to her mother). However, the album failed to match the success of her previous release. Ford's next release was Dangerous Curves (1991), which featured her last charting single to date, "Shot of Poison". Ford's final album prior to a lengthy recording hiatus was Black on the German ZYX Records.
Long hiatus (1996–2007)
By the mid-1990s, Ford had turned her attention towards raising her two young sons, causing her music career to become less of a priority. Following the release of Black in 1995, Ford did not release new material until Wicked Wonderland in 2009.
Return to stage (2008–present)
In June 2008, Ford re-emerged with a new band with Stet Howland (W.A.S.P.) on drums, playing several warm-up gigs under the moniker Kiss Me Deadly prior to Rocklahoma in Pryor, Oklahoma. In June 2009, she toured the United States and Europe with a new line-up on her last fourteen shows, consisting of former Guns N' Roses guitarist Ron "Bumblefoot" Thal, drummer Dennis Leeflang, and Deepfield bassist PJ Farley.
After a long recording hiatus, Ford released Wicked Wonderland on 6 October 2009, on the JLRG Entertainment label. In an interview with ExclusiveMagazine.com, Ford spoke about her new material: "I just wanted to kick ass! I don't know what's popular, or the flavor of the day. I just wanted the music to rock! The lyrics are very personal and that's it. I wasn't going to come out in sandals with hairy armpits!"
In May 2011, Ford promised to release a "real comeback album" later in the year with drummer Chuck Spradlin, saying that 2009's nu metal-inspired Wicked Wonderland was too much of a collaborative project with ex-husband Jim Gillette. "A lot of people have told me that they want a real Lita Ford album, and I know what they mean. They are going to get it", she was quoted as saying at the time.
Living Like a Runaway was released in June 2012 on SPV/Steamhammer Records. True to her word, the album was much more in line with her earlier work. The title is also celebratory, as Ford had recently settled differences with her former Runaways' bandmates. During 2014, she was bestowed with The Certified Legend Award by Guitar Player.
In November 2014, Heaven Below guitarist Patrick Kennison joined Ford's band.
In 2016, Ford released Time Capsule, a collection of songs she discovered on old analogue tapes from the 1980s, featuring recordings she had made with Billy Sheehan, Gene Simmons, Bruce Kulick, Robin Zander, Rick Nielsen, Dave Navarro, Rodger Carter, and Jeff Scott Soto.