Lita Ford: Queen of the Rock Guitar

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Lita Ford today (Photo: James Michael via AXS TV; used with permission)

She’s best known as a founding member of the Runaways in the late 1970s, and as a Grammy-nominated solo artist in the 1980s with classic rock hits such as “Kiss Me Deadly” and “Close My Eyes Forever.” Lita Ford has also appeared in movies, on TV and in video games, all attesting to the power of hard work and her ability to break into a traditionally male-dominated world.

The musician was born September 19, 1958, in London, England, moved to Los Angeles with her family at a young age. Ford was just 16-years-old when she was recruited by producer Kim Fowley to join the all-female Runaways. With rhythm guitarist Joan Jett, drummer Sandy West and, briefly, bassist Micki Steele–who later became Michael Steele of the Bangles–already on-board, Ford joined as lead guitarist. They were soon joined by lead vocalist Cherie Curie and then bassist Jackie Fox.

From 1976 to 1978, the Runaways released four studio albums, and although they never had a hit single, they made an impact on the U.S. punk music scene. (The song they’re most closely associated with, “Cherry Bomb,” from their debut album, was subsequently re-recorded by its co-songwriter Jett, on one of her solo albums).

1988’s Lita album

By 1979, the group–whose members were still only around 20-years-old–called it quits. Jett has enjoyed the most post-Runaways success, with her own band, the Blackhearts. Her 1981 album, I Love Rock ‘n Roll, yielded a smash single with the title cut, which became 1982’s overall #3 pop hit.

For her part, Ford signed a solo deal with the Runaways’ label, Mercury Records, with modest success. A few years later, she signed with RCA and hired a new manager, Sharon Osbourne. The resulting 1988 album, Lita, included two huge hits: “Kiss Me Deadly,” which reached #12 on the Hot 100, and a duet with her manager’s husband—Ozzy Osbourne—”Close My Eyes Forever” (#8). A big tour followed for the leather-clad rocker.

Watch the official live video for Ford’s “Kiss Me Deadly”

The singer/songwriter/guitarist was the recipient of the first She Rocks Awards in 2017, which “pay tribute to women who display leadership and stand out within the music industry.” The “Queen of the Rock Guitar” continues to tour regularly on her own and as a much-in-demand support act. Those 1988 hits remain big fan favorites. (See dates here.)

Related: Listings for 100s of classic rock tours

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  1. HeyLegg
    #1 HeyLegg 20 September, 2020, 00:14

    This is fabulous, but the fake Ozzy makes me want to puke. I love you Lita Ford.

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