STORY WRITTEN BY BRIAN BINGAMAN
@brianbingaman on Twitter
Last night was a late one, in a good way, for Lita Ford and her band.
Riding in her tour bus on the way to Spokane, Wash., it’s 11:30 a.m. local time and the “Kiss Me Deadly” singer is still in her pajamas — a Kiss onesie.
It’s been a year to celebrate for the rock guitarist and songwriter. In February Ford published her autobiography, “Living Like a Runaway.” In April she released “Time Capsule,” a compilation of previously unreleased songs from the 1980s that she discovered in a collection of tapes in her home. She’s played some tour dates with Halestorm — even sharing the stage with Lizzy Hale — and sang and played on a version of The Troggs’ ‘60s classic “Wild Thing” with her friend Ace Frehley on his new album “Origins Vol. 1.”
And did you see her on the “Rock Stars” episode of Food Network’s “Chopped?” “Every time it does get shown, I get a lot of comments on my Facebook (www.facebook.com/litaofficial) and Instagram (@litafordofficial),” she said.
Competing against Eddie Ojeda of Twisted Sister, Dweezil Zappa and Foreigner lead singer Kelly Hansen, Ford made it to the second round before getting chopped. But more importantly, she got to talk about her organization, Lita Ford’s Parental-Alienation Awareness. According to Ford, her ex-husband has been systematically turning their two sons against her, and has been blocked from seeing them for six years. They are now approximately 18 and 14 years old.
“It’s not something a lot of people talk about. Our legal system, it’s just not helping us. They’re destroying our families. You’re divorcing the ex, not divorcing the child. A guy came up (after) the last show and said he hasn’t seen his little girl in three years,” she said, adding that actor Alec Baldwin has publicly talked about being alienated from his children by ex-wife Kim Bassinger.
A happy memory from when Ford still lived with her sons involved the video game Brütal Legend, in which she appears as a character. “You guys, play this and see what level I come in on,” she remembered telling them.
Ford, who burst onto the scene as a teenager in 1975 as lead guitarist of The Runaways, has no desire to see the movie made about the all-female band that also featured Rock and Roll Hall of Famer Joan Jett. “It’s mostly about Joan, and a little about Cherie Curry. They took Cherie’s songs out at the last minute,” she said. Ford’s Oct. 31 date at Sellersville Theater should feature The Runaways signature song “Cherry Bomb.”
The set list will also include the 1989 anti-suicide ballad “Close My Eyes Forever,” a duet with Ozzy Osbourne. It’s still performed as a duet, with guitarist Patrick Kennison singing Osbourne’s parts. “It’s a really tight, kick-ass, one-two punch to the face set,” Ford said.
At the time “Close My Eyes Forever” was on a climb to the top 10, her manager was Sharon Osbourne. However that commitment couldn’t last, Ford said, because “she was having one of the worst times of her life with Ozzy and his drug abuse.” Already difficult to get a hold of because of an erratic home life, Sharon Osbourne came frighteningly close to being choked to death by Ozzy, according to Ford, and suddenly had understandably more urgent priorities than being a manager. “I had to let her go; I had to fire her,” Ford said.
In 2014, “Guitar Player” magazine named Ford a Certified Guitar Legend. “That was huge for me. Real musician magazines wouldn’t put me on the cover because I was a woman,” she said.
The reason the “Time Capsule” recordings — which feature cameos by Robin Zander and Rick Neilsen of Cheap Trick, Dave Navarro of Jane’s Addiction and Red Hot Chili Peppers, and star bassists Billy Sheehan and Gene Simmons — remained unreleased for so long was sexism in the music industry, she said. In the ‘80s, “the record companies didn’t want the artists to produce their own music. ‘First of all, you’re a female, and females don’t produce hard rock’,” Ford said.
Meanwhile, she’s been working on new music with Sellersville Theater favorite Gary Hoey. “They’re rockin’, riffy and dark. It’s gonna be a concept album on a ‘Welcome to My Nightmare’-ish level,” she said, referencing Alice Cooper.