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Free At Last: An Exclusive Interview With LITA FORD

By Larry Petro, News Monkey
Monday, October 20, 2014 @ 5:35 PM

"It just seemed like things were escalating at a rapid pace and change needed to happen NOW or somebody's going to get killed. And I knew that somebody was going to be me."

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Live Photos By Larry Petro

From her humble beginnings as a teenage member of the all-girl 70's rock band THE RUNAWAYS, Lita Ford set out to make her mark on the music world. Following the band's breakup in the late 70's, Lita set out on a solo career. Her first few solo albums were only moderately successful and it wasn't until the late 80's when she became successful as a hard rock solo artist. During this time she would become the Farrah Fawcett of hard rock and metal, a source of angst for a whole generation of teenaged male metalheads.

By the mid 90's, Lita had gotten married to ex-NITRO singer Jim Gillette after knowing him for just 2 weeks and decided to take a self-imposed musical hiatus. They moved to the Turks and Caicos Islands where she would focus on raising their two sons. Her "comeback" album, Wicked Wonderland, released in 2009, was quickly panned by the critics as being nothing more than a Lita-fronted Jim Gillette album, given his heavy involvement with the release.

It was around this time that her idyllic paradise and marriage quickly started to unravel at the hands of an ever controlling brute until she finally had to make a virtual life-or-death decision to leave a situation that was becoming more and more abusive with each passing day. Her freedom would not be without a price, however, as she would have to leave her precious boys behind with the reasoning that it would spare them from further mental abuse at the hands of their father.

Her real comeback album, Living Like A Runaway, was released in 2012 and saw Lita returning to the classic, edgy rock sound that she had been known for. Now, with her autobiography, also titled Living Like A Runaway, set for an April release and some brand new music in the works, I had a chance to sit down with the self-proclaimed Queen Of Metal before her recent appearance in Houston, Texas, to chat about her memoir, her kids and subsequent involvement in parental alienation awareness and the one decision in her life that she would change if she could go back in time....Enjoy!

KNAC.COM: I'd like to talk about your autobiography first. Originally, it was supposed to come out on November 11th and I see now that Amazon has it listed for April. What happened?

FORD: We weren't ready. It's just one of those things that takes a lot of.....there's a lot of stories in it and to get them all in the book and all in chronological order, it was like putting everything in a fucking blender and turning it on. It wasn't coming out right, so we said 'ok, let's just take our time, make sure everything's in good order and arranged properly and push back the release date'. This is HUGE and it's gonna be an awesome book!

KNAC.COM: Yeah, I was hoping to have an advance copy of the book to read before the interview, but I've got a pretty good idea of what's in it.

FORD: I know! It was so hard to push it back. We didn't want to but we had to in order to get the book out that we wanted. Otherwise it would have been a half assed Lita Ford book.

KNAC.COM: If you're going to do your memoir then you gotta do it right.

FORD: Absolutely!

KNAC.COM: How long did it take you to write it?

FORD: Two years.

KNAC.COM: Did you write it entirely yourself or did you use outside writers?

FORD: Well, I used different writers that didn't really understand what it was like to be a female in the rock world and we started writing and found that it didn't work, so I had to find somebody else, and that didn't work. Finally I said, 'you know what? Fuck this'. You know, the old saying, 'if you want something done right, do it yourself'. But I can't expect for them to understand because there's only one of me.

KNAC.COM: And you lived it.

FORD: And I lived it! I didn't know how to put it into words so that they could understand it, if that makes any sense. They weren't getting it so that was part of the problem. It wasn't their fault, it was just a lack of communication and a lack of understanding.

KNAC.COM: What do you think when people read your book that they're going to find the most surprising about it?

FORD: I don't hold anything back. A lot of the book is my story and my journey through the rock era, trying to fight as a female. The bullshit I had to put up with, the do's and doníts, yes you can, no you can't. They're gonna go 'wow, this girl's lived 8 lifetimes'.

KNAC.COM: With all of the stories that are in the book, did you feel obligated at all to give anyone a heads up that they're in the book?

FORD: No. Now, I don't throw anybody under the bus. The people that are under the bus were already under the bus and everyone knows it. It's not about that, it's not that kind of book.

KNAC.COM: Now, along those same lines, was there anything that you intentionally left out of the book?

FORD: (Pause) Well, there's a lot that I didn't mention about my divorce that I intentionally left out because there's sooo much to tell about the divorce and my marriage. That's a book in itself. Hopefully someone will come up to me and say 'Lita, let's make that movie', because it would be a hell of a movie. And a lot of it I couldn't put in the book for legal reasons, and for reasons that I didn't really want to make it all about him (ex-husband Jim Gillette) and I just wanted it to be a well-rounded book.

KNAC.COM: But it's safe to say that there's probably a pretty good section of the book devoted to that.

FORD: There's a section of it, yeah.

KNAC.COM: You've spoken about that situation at length in other interviews in the past and I have to say that for you, being a mother, having to leave the situation that you were in without your boys had to be one of the hardest things that you've ever had to do.

FORD: Yeah, without a doubt. Without a doubt. But I had to leave them because they were suffering and their father was putting them through hell and I thought, if I walk away maybe he'll leave them alone. I don't know what he's done to them, I haven't been in communication with them, I don't know where they are. To this day I still don't know where they are. I've got an idea but I'm not sure if I'm right. And I know they love me, I know they're hurting, too. For me to turn my back and walk away from them was beyond difficult, beyond the hardest thing I've ever had to do.

KNAC.COM: What do you think would have happened if you hadn't left?

FORD: First of all, I think he was gonna kill me. I think the abuse would have continued towards the boys and that I didn't want to see. It just seemed like things were escalating at a rapid pace and change needed to happen NOW or somebody's going to get killed. And I knew that somebody was going to be me.

KNAC.COM: And now that you've gotten out of that, you plotted your escape, so to speak, as a result of that situation you have become a very outspoken critic of parental alienation, which is a topic that probably doesn't get as much attention as it deserves.

FORD: Right, that's true.

KNAC.COM: I noticed you have a Facebook page devoted to that awareness. How active are you in that?

FORD: Well, I've been asked to do a lot of appearances, you know 'can you get up to speak and tell people about your situation', and I'm like 'I am, I will', but we've been touring so much that I honestly haven't had time until now. So, we've devoted the month of April to parental alienation. April is Parental Alienation Month. I created the ribbon, the blue ribbon with the green, that's the child abuse ribbon with parental alienation. The green is mental abuse so it's not just child abuse, it's not just mental abuse, it's both. That was our creation. Me and my friend Martina, who's my partner in crime on this. She's wonderful and she's also a school teacher so she sees it every day in school, she teaches high school. She sees what happens to these students when they grow being alienated from their other parent. It's horrible.

KNAC.COM: A child should never have to choose between their parents.

FORD: No, never.

KNAC.COM: So, you said that you don't even know where they're at, but then they're obviously not with Jim?

FORD: No, they're still with Jim.

KNAC.COM: And they're probably in their teens now, correct?

FORD: One of them is 17 and the other is 13, too young to be away from his mother.

KNAC.COM: I would hope at some point they would get to the age where they start to question everything.

FORD: I think they're there now, I think they're just too afraid of him. He's very big and very intimidating and he says things to you that are so horrible, so devastating that you couldn't possibly imagine that he was lying about it. He says things to the kids like, he'll point down at them (demonstrating) and go 'She doesn't fucking want you!'. I mean, how could you possibly think your father's lying about something like that? In reality, they do want you, he's just lying. He's horrible, he's evil, Satan.

KNAC.COM: Hopefully that will have a happy ending for you in the long run.

FORD: I think it will. When I walked away from my children I had a plan and I didn't just walk away, I walked away with a plan.

KNAC.COM: Talking about music for just a second now, your last album, Living Like A Runaway, came out two years ago. It's about time for some new music, huh?

FORD: Yes, it is!

KNAC.COM: How's it going with that?

FORD: It's going great, I really feel like I have angels following me and Bob Marlette is producing the next album. He's a wonderful man and he has wonderful ideas, a real Godsend in my life right now. His wife, his family, I love them and I think we're gonna make a kick ass, iconic album.

KNAC.COM: You worked with Gary Hoey on your last album, which was also a blessing for you. So you're not working with him at all on this new album?

FORD: I don't know, we may write together. We've been talking a lot so we'll see what comes out of it. The unfortunate thing is he's on the East Coast and I'm on the West Coast. That's the unfortunate thing. But I could always get on a plane.

KNAC.COM: Right around the time that Living Like A Runaway came out that you were possibly collaborating with your former RUNAWAYS bandmate, Cherie Currie. Things then kinda went quiet there for a while. Are you two still planning to do some music together or....?

FORD: Well, what we did was, I wrote a Christmas song and Cherie calls and says 'Hey, what are you doing, what's going on, blah blah blah'. I said 'nothin, you know, I'm just gettin ready to go in to the studio'. I said 'where are you?', and she said 'oh, I'm just sitting in Chicago airport being bored'. I said, 'where you goin?' and she's says 'I'm flying to Los Angeles and I land about 3 o'clock'. I said 'Well that's about the time I'm going into the studio. You need to come to the studio'. She said 'Why?' and I said 'because you're gonna sing this fucking Christmas song! It's gonna be a duet with Lita Ford and Cherie Currie'. She said 'no way! I don't even know the song, I've never heard it!' I said 'don't worry, I'll guide you through it'. She showed up at the studio and she kicked ass! So, we did this wonderful song called "Rock This Christmas Down", which we're gonna remix it and release it again this Christmas.

So that started off our love affair I guess you could say, with each other that we never had because we never really knew each other in THE RUNAWAYS. We had a very distant relationship. We were still kids, we were still growing up, you know how teenagers are, you know how they can be, stubborn, rebellious. Then, from "Rock This Christmas Down", Cherie recorded some songs for her album, which isn't released yet, and she said 'hey, would you sing on some of my stuff?', and I said 'sure'. So, you sang on mine, I'll sing on yours, scratch my back I'll scratch your back. It's good to have her back in my life. I love her dearly, she's my angel.

KNAC.COM: Another one of your angels...

FORD: Another one of my angels for sure.

KNAC.COM: Now, the two of you were at the Golden Gods Awards recently to support another one of your band mates, Joan Jett. Was there ever any talk at all about the two of you getting up onstage with her while she was performing?

FORD: She could've invited us, but she didn't.

KNAC.COM: It was interesting, as I was putting my interview questions together I got a press release for the Red Nation Film Festival, which has you listed as one of the attendees. What's your involvement with that?

FORD: Oh, the Randy Castillo film! I did a voiceover for it.

KNAC.COM: You narrated it.

FORD: Yes! And I gotta tell ya, you know, they don't really make it that clear, but you know he was in MOTLEY CRUE, he was in OZZY, but I'm the one that pulled his ass out of the gutter. I'm the one that found him at Madam Wong's and said 'you need to be in a real rock band'. And I put him in my band, then Sharon (Osbourne) took him from my band and put him in OZZY's.

KNAC.COM: You mentioned earlier when you were talking about your story about being a woman in rock and how difficult it was and when you look around at the hard rock landscape now over the last 5, 10 years, it seems that there's increasingly more and more hard rock artists and bands that are fronted by women. Do you think that women in hard rock and metal are finally getting the acknowledgement and credit they deserve or do you think it still has a ways to go yet?

FORD: It has a ways to go yet BUT the doors are open now and the path is carved. But it still has a ways to go. We still have the ones that are afraid to admit that were influenced by Lita Ford or there are the ones that are afraid to say 'yeah, Lzzy Hale's vocals were my main influence'. The females aren't afraid, but there's a lot of guys out there that don't wanna say it, it's almost like 'we know it, but we don't wanna say it cuz it's gonna make us look bad'. Not everyone's gonna agree. Some of those people are huge, they're some of the bigger musicians in the world, and they won't say it. I know who they are, they gotta open their fucking mouths, and THEN I think we can say we've crossed that bridge.

KNAC.COM: How would rate your happiness level, right now, in 2014?

FORD: Well, I'm about 50% happy without my kids, because I don't have them. It's devastating, every morning I wake up and I'm like, 'where are my kids? Are they ok? Did they eat today? Are they thinking about me?' And then the other side of me says 'I'm Lita Ford, I'm the fucking Queen of Metal, life's good'. I've got the good along with the bad.

KNAC.COM: If you had the opportunity to go back and change one decision in your life, what would it be, and why? Just one.

FORD: (no hesitation) Not to marry Jim Gillette. The only thing good that came out of that marriage was my beautiful children and I would never take that away for anything, but that man is Satan. If I had to do it all over again I would get the fuck out of there faster than a New York second, very first thing.

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