July 9, 2008
By David Huff
Lita Ford - Rocklahoma 2008 - July 9-13
Blonde Bombshell Returns
Without a doubt, Carmelita Rosanna Ford, known simply as Lita, is the sexiest, hottest female rocker to ever put on a pair of black leather pants.
Born to a British mother and Mexican-Italian father, Lita first came to the attention of the mass media in 1976 when the 16-year old guitarist joined the all-girl band, The Runaways. From 1975, until they folded in late 1979, the group released four studio albums and one live LP, which Ford always considered the Runaways best recording. The band (also featuring Joan Jett) toured the United States, Europe and Japan, playing a brand of rock – mixed with punk – that no one had seen any girls play before. In Japan, the female rockers were treated like royalty. Unfortunately, in the eyes of the media, The Runaways were typically known as teenage jailbait on the run. It eventually led to their demise.
With her music career seemingly over at age 20, Lita worked various jobs like selling men’s cologne and pumping gas. When talking with Eddie Van Halen one day, he encouraged her to pick up the guitar and take music seriously instead of letting her talent go to waste. Taking the advice to heart, Lita put together a band, signed a deal, and in 1983 released her first solo album on Mercury Records, Out For Blood. The original artwork on the album cover had an almost nude Lita holding a strategically placed, bloodied guitar, and was banned. In 1984, she released her second album, Dancing on the Edge with a new lineup. By this time, she was engaged to her guitar idol, Tony Iommi, and appeared with him on MTV’s Guitar Heroes concert. The same year, Lita received her first Grammy nomination for “Gotta Let Go”. She began writing her third album, The Bride Wore Black when she broke off her two-year engagement to Iommi. The album never saw the light of day due to the record company scrapping the music because they deemed it too heavy.
Fed up with the label dictating her career, Ford severed her ties and brought in Sharon Osbourne to manage her career. The relationship paid immediate dividends. In 1988, the blonde bombshell released Lita, featuring the hit “Kiss Me Deadly”, her smash duet with Ozzy Osbourne. The album also contained another Ford gem, “Close My Eyes Forever” and would go on to sell over a million units in the U.S. alone. She toured the country opening for a red hot Poison and overseas with an even hotter Bon Jovi. In 1990, Lita met W.A.S.P. guitarist Chris Holmes at the Rainbow in Hollywood, and the two married in June of that year. Ford released Stiletto which included a touching tribute to her mother, “Lisa” and a surprising remake of the Alice Cooper classic, “Only Women Bleed.” After a year of marriage to Holmes, it was over. Lita threw all her energy into her next project, the 1993 release Dangerous Curves. The album would give Lita another Grammy nod, this time for Best Rock Vocal Performance by a Female for “Shot of Poison”. Later that year, at a Dallas niteclub, Ford met ex-Nitro vocalist Jim Gillette. Two weeks after their initial introduction, a smitten Gillette had a plane fly overhead – while they were sipping cocktails – that read “Rosanna, I love you. Marry Me.” They did just that. In 1995, the newlyweds entered the studio and came out with Black. With her husband providing background vocals (and why not, with a six-octave range that can shatter glass and hold a C sharp for 32 seconds), the album had a rawer sound not heard since Lita’s Dancing on the Edge album. After a brief tour, a now pregnant Ford retired from the music business. She and her husband have two sons and live on a Caribbean island
For the first time in 15 years, Lita Ford will be taking the stage in her only North American appearance at Rocklahoma July 12th. Her new band is drummer Stet Howland, guitarist Tom Cavanagh, Teddy Cook and Michael T. Ross.