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Metal mom' Lita Ford pens revealing memoir, Living Like a Runaway'

March 2, 2016
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Lita Ford at Darling's Waterfront Pavilion in 2012. Lita Ford at Darling's Waterfront Pavilion in 2012. Edge photo by Mike Fern

Lita Ford was only 16 when she became lead guitarist for The Runaways, the hugely influential 1970s female rock band fronted by Joan Jett.

Ford (like Jett) became a powerful female presence in a male-dominated industry, went solo with top 10 success in the 1980s and lived rock dreams that even she couldn't have imagined.

Those dreams turned nightmarish when Ford became caught up in an abusive relationship with a musician she loved and idolized. She lays it all out in her eminently readable and relatable autobiography, 'Living Like a Runaway: A Memoir,' published by HarperCollins. Ford phoned from Chicago last week to discuss her new book.

Dow:You helped kick the door open for women in rock. Is that one of the reasons why you wrote this book?

Ford: It is one of the reasons, yes. I wanted to put something out there where people could read and follow my footsteps the ups and downs and trials and tribulations of being a female in the rock world 'a man's world' and the hurdles I had to jump to get to where I am today. The book isn'tjustfor women. There's lots of juicy stories in there for the guys too (laughs).

Dow: How did your parents react when you told them, as a teen, that you planned to join The Runaways?

Ford: It isn't like some people may think. You think of these broken homes were the kid runs off to be a rock star. It wasn't like that at all. My parents were the most supportive. They were my friends and my fans. They were always asking me to play them something on guitar. (At this point, Lita imitates her mom's Italian accent) Oh Lita, play me the Black Sabbath. Play me some Santana.' My father would come to all of the shows and bring his six-pack of beer. They were so supportive. I was really blessed.

Dow: When there was talk of a Runaways reunion a few years back, you didn't feel it was the right time. Have you ruled out the possibility of playing with those ladies again?

Ford: No, I would love to play with them again. I think the timing is right now. I'm all for it. When we did talk about it at one point, it was in the middle of the 'grunge' era. Nirvana was the biggest thing going then and I don't think it would have gone well. If we did it today, it would be huge. I'm all for it. If you can talk Joan (Jett) into it, let me know.

Dow: The section in your book where you address the abuse you endured during your engagement with Tony Iommi (of Black Sabbath) has a lot of people talking. What would you say to someone listening or reading who is in an abusive relationship and feels stuck there?

Ford: You're not stuck. It may be a difficult situation to get out of but you're not stuck. If you're unhappy, you don't want to spend the rest of your life being abused whether it's verbally, mentally, physically there are so many different types of abuse. Come up with a plan. Find somebody you can confide in that's a good friend or family member. Stash some money, make a move and get out. I didn't want to spend the rest of my life being unhappy. All anybody wants in life is to be happy.

Dow: It was something your mom told you that helped you get out, is that right?

Ford: Yes, but I didn't tell her it was me. I told her that I had a girlfriend who was being abused because my mother loved Tony. My father really liked him too, and I didn't want to upset them. I didn't know what to do. I had never been hit by a guy before. Let me tell you, I still love Tony today. I love the awesome wonderful guitar player that he is and I will always look up to Black Sabbath no matter what. But when you're engaged to somebody and they turn around andpunchyou in the face, it's a little devastating. When I told my mother that my girlfriend had been punched by her boyfriend, she said Lita, he do it once, he do it again.' It's not a one-time thing.

Dow: You had a top 10 single in 1989 with 'Close My Eyes Forever,' a duet with Ozzy Osbourne. How did that change things for you?

Ford: It was a definite 'plus' for me, but it was probably the worst time of Ozzy's life. Sharon (Osbourne's wife) was my manager at the time, and it wasn't a good time for her either. My loyalty was more to Sharon than to Ozzy. But things went south. Ozzy was very stoned. He was doing so many drugs that Sharon put him jail at one point and left him there. Then she put him in rehab and I think she was contemplating divorce, although she did not divorce him and I'm glad to see that they're still together. It's kind of a long story, but it's all in the book.

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Last modified on Wednesday, 02 March 2016 14:20

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