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.