Sunday, November 12, 2017

Living Like a Runaway – Lita Ford

The foreward by Dee Snider immediately starts with a bad tone by saying that Lita was the only member of the Runaways that was a “serious musician” and that when she went solo she was “no longer held back by other less-committed band members”! Does he not realize that Joan Jett was the first Runaway to have a hit solo career and that she is still rocking, having never stopped (unlike Lita)? Bizarre…

In any case, LIta tells her story of growing up with very understanding and supportive parents, digging heavy metal - Tony Iommi and Ritchie Blackmore were huge influences - and learning solos from repeated listening to the great albums of the time. Eventually, after playing and jamming with high school friends, word got around about this young, female player and Kim Fowley gave her a call to have her audition for the Runaways. She talks some shit about the other girls, especially Jackie, for some reason, but became friends with Sandy, even though she was freaked out enough by the lesbianism that she quit the band for a short period before coming to grips with it and realizing that the music was more important. 

Lita is justifiably proud of her work with the Runaways, and they were important as groundbreaking, young female rockers, but she continually writes as if there were no female musicians before them, which obviously is not the case (even though some of the reviews claim that is was). This continues throughout the book and almost seems like she is trying to convince herself of her importance. She tells tales of their tours with the Ramones, of meeting many stars (70’s rockers were certainly intrigued by these young femmes and she had affairs with Iommi, Blackmore and others, and hung out with most of the big stars) and touring Japan. Jackie quit the band while in Japan and, after several temporary bassists, the band simply dissolved.

Eventually she got her own band going – with revolving members – and put out her debut album on the Runaways’ label, Mercury. She became big for a while, partly as the novelty of a female hair metal rocker (as opposed to down’n’dirty rockers like Girlschool), did some major tours and then lost her momentum, along with most of the other hair metal bands, with the advent of grunge. Issues with management and record companies exacerbated the problems and she quit music to get married and have kids.

She doesn’t go into details about her husband for the sake of her kids, but it was not a happy and loving relationship, so these times were not good for her. He was extremely controlling of every aspect of their lives, moved them around, spent millions of dollars and eventually took her kids away from her during their divorce.

But, after the divorce she was able to return to music and, other than being separated from her kids, seems to be reasonably happy to have a revitalized career. She has had some contact with Joan and Cherie, but there does not seem to be any interest in a Runaways reunion. Such is life.

While not a natural writer, Ford has many stories to tell and is not ashamed of her life filled with plenty of sex, drugs and alcohol along with her rock'n'roll. Certainly an interesting read for fans.


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