Lita Ford's new memoir, Living Like a Runaway, is jam packed with stories of a truly eventful—and impressive—rock and roll life.
In the autobiography, Ford details her years as a teenager with the Runaways, getting caught with a young Eddie Van Halen in a bathroom, her battles with management and trysts with guys like Nikki Sixx, Tony Iommi, Ritchie Blackmore and Glenn Tipton.
She even devotes ample space to her turbulent marriage and how she subsequently lost access to her sons through parental alienation. Simply put, Living Like a Runaway is a story of life and love from the reigning Queen of Metal.
I recently spoke with Ford about the book and her new album, Time Capsule, which is a collection of previouly unreleased material from the Eighties. You can check out our full interview below.
What made you decide to write a book at this stage of your career?
I really wanted to tell my story. As a female in the music industry—a man’s world—trying to become successful, I wanted to document it, and I wanted to be able to leave something behind so people would know what was going on inside of my life. The hurdles I had to jump and the things I had to do to be where I’m at today and to hopefully carve a path for others.
What was the writing process like?
At first, it was difficult trying to get a co-writer who could follow me. Because there’s so much crammed into my life, it was sometimes hard for me to get the point across. But I didn’t want the book to come out in any other shape or form. It had to be true and it had to be real…and we did it.
Your book mentions quite a bit about your parents and growing up. How much of an impact did they have on you?
I was so blessed to have such great parents. I was an only child, and my father had nine sisters in his family, so I can imagine he was really wanting to have a boy! [laughs] So when he had me, I learned guy stuff. I remember we would go on trips together and he showed me how to hunt and fish. And if there were times when I was drunk at a party, I knew I could just call him up and say, “Dad, come and get me!"—and he would, no questions asked. I was never in trouble and there was never a cross word in my family. It was loving and easy going. Not a lot of money but a lot of love and support. I think that’s what gave me the confidence to be someone and move forward in life.
Did you ever have second thoughts about your choice of career?
No, I never had a second thought. I always saw the light at the end of the tunnel. People would often say things about me being a girl guitar player, and I was always like, “What does that have to do with anything? Am I missing something here?”
In the book, you talk about how those early Black Sabbath records played such a huge part in your wanting to become a guitarist. Do you think that played a part in your desire to stay with Tony Iommi after your relationship turned abusive?
I didn’t stick around for long. I really didn’t want to tell my parents about what was going on, so I told my mother I had a friend whose boyfriend had hit her and asked her what she should do. My mom said to me (in her Italian accent), “Lita! He do it once… he do it again!” That was when I decided to bail. I knew it wasn’t going to stop and was only going to get worse. But I like to remember Tony as the guitar god I originally discovered when I was 13.
What can you tell me about your relationship with Ritchie Blackmore?
Richie is a wonderful, incredible and intriguing man. He’s a mysterious and interesting guy as well as a phenomenal musician. He was my Number 1 hero on guitar because of his double picking—especially the solo on "Highway Star," which was the song I auditioned for the Runaways with.
After you moved to the Caribbean you changed from Lita Ford the rock star to Lita Ford the mom and started focusing everything on your children, even home schooling them. Was that a difficult transition to make?
I really wanted my boys to have friends and social skills, but there wasn’t anybody on that island. But there was no way my boys were going to grow up and be illiterate. They had to learn to read and write, and I was the only one there who was going to teach them. So I home schooled them. I taught them the alphabet and multiplication; how to read and how to tell time. We would always sit and read encyclopedias and Google stuff. It was a lot of one on one, and I did a damn good job.
What's the latest on your relationship with your sons?
I haven't had my children for five years. I don’t know where they are and I’m very worried about them. My one son is 18 and my younger son is 14. I hope they’re OK, and I just want them to know I love them and hope I get to see them again soon.
Let’s talk a little about your new album. Where did the idea for Time Capsule originate?
There were 15 analog tapes I had in the Caribbean house that I had to go back and get during my divorce. I drug them though the Caribbean dirt and on to a boat and took them back to L.A. I remember we had to bake them because they were so old and had been in that air for so long. I was afraid to put them on the reel because I thought they would flake and fall apart. So we baked them and transferred them over to digital—and it worked!
What makes Time Capsule so special?
It has such a magical vibe to it. We didn’t change one note on anything on this album. All we did was remix. It was so fun and when we originally recorded it, all of the musicians were in their prime: Billy Sheehan; Gene Simmons and Bruce Kulick; Robin Zander and Rick Nielsen of Cheap Trick; Dave Navarro is on mandolin; Rodger Carter’s on drums. Even Jeff Scott Soto and I sing a duet together that’s just awesome. The album is also a gift to the fans, because I know they miss the Eighties. There are people who are too young and didn’t get to live through the Eighties, and then there are other people who really miss it. So there’s a little piece of the Eighties in this time capsule, and I’m bringing it back!
For more about Ford, visit litafordonline.com.
James Wood is a writer, musician and self-proclaimed metalhead who maintains his own website, GoJimmyGo.net. His articles and interviews are written on a variety of topics with passion and humor. You can follow him on Twitter @JimEWood.