Dey Street Books (formerly It Books), an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers, has set a February 23 release date for “Lita Ford – Living Like A Runaway: A Memoir”. In this 272-page hardcover book, which was originally expected in 2014, the former lead guitarist of THE RUNAWAYS opens up about the ’70s and ’80s music scene, and her extraordinary life and career. Continue reading LITA FORD’s ‘Living Like A Runaway: A Memoir’ To Finally See Light Of Day Next Month
Former THE RUNAWAYS vocalist Cherie Currie spoke to the SF Examiner about the current status of the solo album she made in 2011 — produced by former GUNS N’ ROSES drummer Matt Sorum and and featuring guest appearances by fellow ex-GN’R members Slash and Duff McKagan, THE VERONICAS and Juliette Lewis. It also includes a duet with SMASHING PUMPKINS mainman Billy Corgan and a remake of the old RUNAWAYS classic “Queens Of Noise” with DISTILLERS and SPINNERETTE singer Brody Dalle.
After it took over a year for everyone involved to sign off on the CD, Currie, 53, was prevented from touring by her then-manager Kenny Laguna, who also represents Currie‘s former THE RUNAWAYS bandmate Joan Jett.
“He said, ‘Nope, you can’t play, it’s not time,'” says Currie. “One summer went by, and then another, and another was coming up, and I said, ‘Kenny, you can’t let me sit here. The band’s been waiting for two years!’ I was trying to tell him that I’m not 20 years old anymore — one year is like five when you hit 50.”
Currie has since ended her working relationship with Laguna, and as a result, “we’re not even sure if the record is going to see the light of day,” says her son, Jake Hays, who plays guitar in her band and whom she had with actor Robert Hays.
“Because the business didn’t work for me when I was young, it’s become a dream of mine to come back,” she says. “But I can’t wait for anybody anymore. I just want to play some RUNAWAYS songs for all the fans and kind of say goodbye, in a way.”
In a recent Facebook post, Currie said about her plans for the immediate future: “I’m going to record a single this summer and release it on iTunes. I’m going to play, play, play, like I wanted to from the beginning. I’m going to give the fans what they want and deserve without management and without a record company.
“[Fellow ex-THE RUNAWAYS member] Lita Ford said to me the other day, ‘Sister, you’re not dead yet!’ And she’s right. It’s time to put faith in the only things I can count on. Myself and the fans. That’s really all that matters.”
The Runaways were an American all-girl rock band that recorded and performed in the second half of the 1970s. The band released four studio albums and one live set during its run. Among its best known songs: “Cherry Bomb”, “Queens of Noise”, “Neon Angels On the Road to Ruin”, “California Paradise” “Dead End Justice”, and the cover of The Velvet Underground’s “Rock n Roll”. The Runaways, though never a major success in the U.S., became a sensation in 1977 Japan thanks to the hit single “Cherry Bomb.”
The Runaways were formed in late 1975 by drummer Sandy West and rhythm guitarist Joan Jett after they had both introduced themselves to producer Kim Fowley, who gave Jett’s phone number to West. The two met on their own at West’s home and later called Fowley to let him hear the outcome. Fowley then helped the girls find other members. Two decades later he said, “I didn’t put The Runaways together, I had an idea, they had ideas, we all met, there was combustion and out of five different versions of that group came the five girls who were the ones that people liked.”
Starting as a power trio with singer/bassist Micki Steele, The Runaways began the party and club circuit around Los Angeles. They soon added lead guitarist Lita Ford who had originally auditioned for the bass spot. Steele got fired from the group, later resurfacing in The Bangles. Local bassist Peggy Foster took over on bass but left after a month. Lead singer Cherie Currie was found and recruited in a local teen nightclub called the Sugar Shack, followed by Jackie Fox (who had originally auditioned for the lead guitar spot) on bass.
The Runaways were signed to Mercury Records in 1976 and their debut album, The Runaways, was released shortly after. The band toured the U.S. and played numerous sold out shows. They headlined shows with opening acts such as Cheap Trick, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers and Van Halen. The documentary Edgeplay: A film about The Runaways, directed by former Runaway bassist Vicki Blue (aka Victory Tischler-Blue ) revealed that each girl patterned herself after her idols: Currie patterned her look after David Bowie, Jett after Suzi Quatro and Keith Richards, Ford as a cross between Deep Purple guitarist Ritchie Blackmore and Jeff Beck, West after Queen drummer Roger Taylor, and Fox after Kiss bassist/vocalist Gene Simmons.
Their second album, Queens of Noise was released in 1977 and the band began a world tour. The Runaways quickly became lumped in with the growing punk rock movement. The band (already fixtures on the West Coast punk scene) formed alliances with mostly-male punk bands such as Blondie, The Ramones and The Dead Boys (via New York City’s CBGB) as well as the British punk scene by hanging out with the likes of The Damned, Generation X and The Sex Pistols.
In the summer of 1977 the group arrived in Japan for a string of sold out shows. The Runaways were the number 4 imported music act in Japan at the time, behind only ABBA, Kiss and Led Zeppelin in terms of album sales and popularity. The girls were unprepared for the onslaught of fans that greeted them at the airport. The mass hysteria was later described by guitarist Jett as being “like Beatlemania”. While in Japan, The Runaways had their own TV special, did numerous television appearances and released the live album Live in Japan that went gold. Also in Japan, Fox left the band shortly before the group was scheduled to appear at the 1977 Tokyo Music Festival. Jett temporarily took over bass duties and when the group returned home they replaced Fox with Vicki Blue.
Currie then left the group after a blow-up with Ford during a photo session in the fall of 1977. Jett, who had previously shared vocals with Currie, took over lead vocals full time. The band released their fourth album, Waitin’ For The Night and started a world tour with their friends The Ramones. Currie released a solo LP, Beauty’s Only Skin Deep, produced by Kim Fowley, and began a separate U.S. tour, which included her identical twin sister Marie. Mercury Records chose not to release Currie’s album Stateside, although it was available as a pricey import via France. In 1980, billed as Cherie and Marie Currie, the sisters released a poorly-received pop-rock album for Capitol, Messin’ With The Boys.
Due to disagreements over money and the management of the band, The Runaways and Kim Fowley parted ways in 1978. The group quickly hired new management, Toby Mamis, who also worked for Blondie and Suzi Quatro. When the group split with Fowley, they also parted with their record label Mercury/Polygram, to which their deal was tied. In the Edgeplay documentary, members of the group (especially Fox and Currie) as well as the parents of Currie and West, have accused Fowley, and others assigned to look after the band, of broken promises as to schooling and other care, using divide and conquer tactics to keep control of the band, along with the verbal taunting of band members. The band reportedly spent much time enjoying the excesses of the rock n’ roll lifestyle during this time. They partnered with Thin Lizzy producer John Alcock, after Jett’s future partner Kenny Laguna turned down the job, to record their last album And Now… The Runaways.
Vicki Blue left the group due to medical problems and was briefly replaced by Laurie McAllister in November 1978. Laurie McAllister was referred to the band by her neighbor, Duane Hitchings, who played keyboards on “And Now… The Runaways”. Before joining The Runaways, Laurie played with Baby Roulette and the Rave Ons, who had one song released on a Kim Fowley compilation LP called “Vampires From Outer Space.” Laurie appeared onstage with The Runaways at their final shows in California during the last weeks of December 1978 and McAllister quit soon after in January 1979.
Disagreement between band members included the musical style; Joan Jett wanted the band to take a musical change, shifting towards punk rock/glam rock while Lita Ford, backed by drummer Sandy West, wanted to continue playing hard rock/heavy metal music. Neither would accept the other’s point of view. Finally, the band played their last concert on New Year’s Eve 1978 at the Cow Palace near San Francisco and officially broke up in April 1979.
Jett arguably achieved the most success after the Runaways. She went on to become a partner and work with producer and former Shondell Kenny Laguna. After being rejected by 23 record labels, they formed their own label, Blackheart Records, in 1980. In doing so, Jett became one of the first female recording artists to found her own record label. The label continues to release albums by The Blackhearts, and also other new up and coming bands. Jett went on to have massive success with a cover of the Arrows’ song “I Love Rock ‘N’ Roll”, as well as other hits such as “Crimson and Clover”, “Bad Reputation” and “I Hate Myself For Loving You”. Jett also co-starred in the 1987 film Light of Day with Michael J. Fox, and appeared in the 2000 Broadway revival of The Rocky Horror Show as Columbia. Jett is also on Rolling Stone magazine’s list of “The 100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time”. She still continues playing to this day and is still touring all over the world.
West continued her association with John Alcock once the group disbanded. She and Ford attempted to record some music, but nothing materialized. She formed the Sandy West Band and toured California throughout the ’80s and ’90s, sometimes with Cherie Currie. She also did session work with John Entwistle of The Who and became a drum teacher. West was diagnosed with lung cancer in 2005 and, after many treatments, succumbed to the disease in October 2006. A memorial tribute concert featuring The Sandy West Band, Cherie Currie, The Bangles, The Donnas, Carmine Appice, Vinny Appice, and several others, was held in Los Angeles.
Steele joined the all girl band The Bangles in the early 1980s and went on to success with songs like “Manic Monday”, “Walk Like an Egyptian” and “Eternal Flame”.
Lita Ford returned as a solo artist to Polygram in the 1980s, where she released several albums before pairing with manager Sharon Osbourne. She also had success with songs like “Kiss Me Deadly” and “Close My Eyes Forever” (the second a duet with her manager’s husband Ozzy Osbourne). She was married to Chris Holmes of W.A.S.P. and former Nitro singer Jim Gillette. They have two young sons. After a long hiatus, Ford staged a comeback, performing at Rock The Bayou, and other hard-rock festivals during the summer of 2008. She released Wicked Wonderland, her first studio album in 14 years, on 6 October 2009. During 2009, Lita toured as a special guest during many shows of the American Soldier tour for the ever-enduring progressive metal band, Queensryche where she performed two songs from Wicked Wonderland and reprised her duet “Close My Eyes Forever” with Queensryche lead singer, Geoff Tate. Ford is also currently making her rounds on TV, appearing on Vh1’s Rock ‘n Roll Fantasy Camp, That Metal Show, and recently filmed a guest spot on the Nickelodeon show Big Time Rush.
Upon leaving The Runaways, Currie released a 1978 solo album entitled Beauty’s Only Skin Deep and a 1980 duet album with her sister Marie, Messin’ With the Boys, in which the duo was backed by most of Toto. She also appeared in a number of films, most notably Foxes with Jodie Foster. Throughout the 1990s, Currie worked as a drug counselor for addicted teens and as a personal fitness trainer. She married actor Robert Hays; they have a son together, Jake Hays, but split up in 1997.
Currie still performs and records but her current passion is chainsaw carving. She has an art gallery in Chatsworth, California where her works are currently on display. She is also currently under contract with Jett’s Blackheart Records label.
Fox returned to using her birth name of Fuchs and graduated from UCLA summa cum laude, with a B.A. in Linguistics and Italian, and received her J.D. from Harvard becoming a lawyer, focusing on entertainment. She has lived abroad and is an amateur photographer. Fox has photographed many other famous actors such as James McAvoy and George Clooney. She co-wrote “Delilah’s Scissors” with Tischler-Blue and executive-produced and appeared in Edgeplay, Tischler-Blue’s 2005 documentary about the Runaways.
Vicki Blue, now known as Victory Tischler-Blue, briefly had a band with Currie in the early ’80s (Currie-Blue Band), but never released an album, though they did appear together in the film This is Spinal Tap. After leaving The Runaways, she shifted her focus to film and television production eventually becoming a producer/director for several reality and magazine based television shows, including Entertainment Tonight, Access Hollywood & Real Stories of the Highway Patrol—receiving an Emmy nomination along the way. She went on to form Sacred Dogs Entertainment Group—a motion picture production company and released a documentary on The Runaways called Edgeplay: A Film About The Runaways. Edgeplay went on to win numerous awards and became the highest rated rock documentary film on the Showtime Networks. In 2005, Tischler-Blue directed “Naked Under Leather”, a documentary about fellow female rocker, Suzi Quatro which is yet to be released. Focusing on music driven productions, she is currently executive producing a network special: The Bee Gees “Unbroken Fever”—The 30th Anniversary of Saturday Night Fever (2007). Additionally, Tischler-Blue and Ford have teamed up together with Ford recording music for El Guitarrista, an animated series that Sacred Dogs Entertainment Group is producing.
McAllister joined another of Fowley’s all-girl bands, The Orchids, who released a single LP in 1980. The original Orchids members were Laurie Bell on drums, Jan King on vocals, McAllister on bass, Sunbie Sinn, and Sandy Fury. She retired from the music industry and worked as a veterinarian technician in Eugene, Oregon. On 30 August 2011 The Runaways website reported that McAllister had died on 25 August, 2011.
The Runaways’ success paved the way for many successful female artists and female bands over the past 30 years, including The Go-Go’s, Sahara Hotnights, L7, The Donnas and new French rock and roll girl band Plastiscines to enter the male-dominated arena of rock music. They are named as influences by several male and female artists, including Running Thoughts, The Germs, Courtney Love, The Adolescents, Taylor Momsen, Ryan Ruins, Ryan Anne Kane, White Flag, and Rhino Bucket who acknowledged The Runaways’ influence on their music during their performance at the December 2006 tribute concert honoring Sandy West.
Portions Credit WikiPedia
Lita Ford was born as Carlita Fordson to a British father and an Italian mother in London, England. She moved with her family to the United States at the age of 4 and began playing the guitar at the age of 11. Her vocal range is mezzo-soprano.
In 1975 at the age of 16 she joined the all-female rock band The Runaways, for whom she played lead guitar. They would score a record deal and have their first album released in 1976.
It was not long before the all-girl formation caught the eye of the media. Lita Ford’s guitar skills made her a driving force in the band and a permanent member from her arrival to the band’s eventual break-up.
In 1979, disagreements were erupting within the band, who had since parted ways with producer Kim Fowley, lead singer Cherie Currie and bassist Jackie Fox. Rhythm guitarist Joan Jett wanted the band to shift more towardsRamones-influenced punk music while Ford and drummer Sandy West wanted to continue playing hard rock-oriented songs. With neither side being able to compromise, the band finally broke up that year.
After the group split in 1979, Ford began a solo career. Her first album Out for Blood as well as the title single were released in 1983 and failed on the charts. The next effort, 1984’s Dancin’ on the Edge achieved moderate success. It included the single “Fire In My Heart” which reached the Top 10 in several countries but not the US. The next single “Gotta Let Go” was one of Ford’s biggest hits. It reached Number One on the Mainstream Rock charts.
Ford toured extensively and made several guest appearances on TV shows for the next four years, but had no releases; a follow-up to Dancin’ On The Edge, titled The Bride Wore Black, was abandoned and never released because Ford did not like the production of the album and this upset the head of her record label, leading to Ford switching from Mercury Records to RCA Records. The artist has described the album as being in “Label hell! Who knows what shelf that is sitting on!”
By the time Ford returned again, the lighter pop-metal she had long favoured had broken through to mainstream audiences, which set the stage for her most commercially successful album, 1988’s Lita. With Sharon Osbourne as her manager, and again produced by herself, the album featured four commercial hits, including “Kiss Me Deadly”, “Back To The Cave”, “Close My Eyes Forever”, and “Falling In And Out Of Love” (co-written with Nikki Sixx of Mötley Crüe). The ballad “Close My Eyes Forever”, a duet with Sharon’s husband Ozzy Osbourne, was her only Top 10 Billboard Hot 100 hit, reaching #8.
Her next release was called Stiletto. It featured the singles “Hungry” and “Lisa” (the second was dedicated to her mother). However this album was not as successful as Dancin’ On The Edge andLita.
Ford’s next release was Dangerous Curves, which featured her last charting single “Shot Of Poison”. Ford’s last release would be with ZYX Records and would be titled Black. It failed to repeat the success of 1991’s Dangerous Curves.
During her solo years, she was an endorser of B.C. Rich guitars and used Warlock, Eagle, Mockingbird and Bich single and double-neck models.
Ford appears in the 1992 film Highway to Hell as ‘The Hitchhiker’. Ford was also asked by VH-1 to be in the cast of The Surreal Life for its 7th season, in 2007. She declined.
Return to stage, new album and tour 2008-2009
In June 2008, Ford and her new solo band played several warm-up gigs prior to Rocklahoma under the name Kiss Me Deadly in the New York City area.
In June 2009, she began touring the US and Europe, with a new line-up consisting of Ron ‘Bumblefoot’ Thal (Guns N’ Roses guitarist, 2006–present) on guitar, Dennis Leeflang (Bumblefoot drummer) and PJ Farley on bass (Trixter, Ra) and Michael T. Ross (Angel/XYZ).
Ford released a new album Wicked Wonderland on 6 October 2009 via JLRG Entertainment.
In an interview with ExclusiveMagazine.com, talking about her new album Wicked Wonderland, Ford revealed the reason why its sound is heavier than the 80s music she once used to put out – “I just wanted to kick ass! I don’t know what’s popular, or the flavour 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!”.
Ford contributed her likeness and voice to the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 video game, Brütal Legend. She appears as the character Rima, alongside Jack Black, Tim Curry, Ozzy Osbourne, Rob Halford, and Lemmy Kilmister. Her song “Betrayal” is also one of the 100+ songs that appear in the game.
In 2010, Ford was portrayed by actress Scout Taylor-Compton in the movie The Runaways.
In May 2011 Ford promised a “real comeback album” later in the year, saying the last one,Wicked Wonderland, recorded with Jim Gillette (to whom she was married at the time) was too much of a collective project. “A lot of people have told me that they want a real Lita album, and I know what they mean. They are going to get it,” she said.
Ford married former Nitro singer Jim Gillette in 1994, after knowing each other for two weeks. They have two sons, James and Rocco Gillette. The family moved to Turks and Caicos, where Gillette has a successful building and real estate developing business.
In a February 2011 radio interview, Lita Ford acknowledged that she and Gillette were divorcing. The family was in negotiations for a reality TV show, tentatively titled “The Gillettes: An Extreme American Family” on TLC, but they ended due to the impending divorce. In a March 2011 interview on the Classic Rock Revisited website, Ford claimed that she had taken a business trip to Los Angeles to discuss the reality show with TLC executives, and returned home to find her husband and sons not speaking to her. She also claimed that her sons physically attacked her, egged on by Gillette, which was when she decided to divorce Gillette and cancel the reality series.