Lita Ford: The TVD Interview, Part Two

Metal icon Lita Ford is on a roll. She’s back with her eighth studio album, Living Like a Runaway, an album that’s unmistakably Lita. It’s brash, guitar-driven hard rock, lots of F-you attitude, and unabashedly personal. Its release coincides with her massive “Rock of Ages” tour with Def Leppard and Poison, which will take Lita across the US this summer. When we chatted with Lita, we got the low-down on the new record, life on the road, who her guitar heroes are, and even the status of a possible Runaways reunion.

Part 1 of the TVD Interview can be found here.

What was it like to be a rock star when you were 16?

I took it seriously, even though some of the pictures were dressed kind of in shorts and… I still took it seriously. I took my music serious and I really wanted to become a better guitar player. I focused on my guitar playing and I did things to try to better myself as a guitar player. Like, I would plug straight into the amplifier rather than using effects, whereas nowadays, you’ve got pedal boards out the fuckin’ ass! It’s unbelievable how many pieces of equipment people use to play guitar! I just don’t get it. I’m very basic. I play with a wah-wah pedal and a delay and that’s it. I don’t even use a tuner – they just get in my way.

So, that was one of the things I focused on in the very beginning was just playing guitar. I heard horror stories about different bands where they’d plug into machines and machines would make noise. Back then, too, the pedals weren’t as evolved as today. And I didn’t want to be like that because I was a chick especially; I needed to be taken seriously as a guitar player.

Seems like it annoyed you that you’re lumped in with the “Top Female Guitarists” as opposed to just “Top Guitarists”?

Well, it does bug me because it’s like I got a different category because I’m a different sex. There wasn’t a category because Jimi Hendrix was black – he was just a guitar player. What the hell’s the difference? What do you need a penis for if you’re playing guitar? Are you gonna use it as a slide? I mean, really – what else could you do with it? [Laughs]

This is already the most fun interview I’ve ever done.

[Laughs]

Is there any truth to the Runaways reunion rumors?

Well the truth is, I asked Joan… and Joan asked me fifteen years ago. And fifteen years ago, it was too soon. It was just… it wasn’t the right time. There were no real women in rock. Nowadays, there’s more girls out there doing it, there’s more women playing. It seems like the right time… with the Runaways movie and all, it seems like the right time to do it.

I called Joan and I asked her flat-out, “Why don’t we get the Runaways back together?” So my manager arranged a dinner and… we never talked about it! We just had dinner together and that was it.

About two months later I got an email from Joan and she was giving me Cherie Currie’s information on how to get in touch with Cherie. I took that as a sign that, yes, she wanted to do the Runaways. So, I called Cherrie and had dinner with her, but I haven’t heard from Joan since. So I have no idea what’s going on – I have no clue. Joan disappeared – she’s not responding to me or Cherie. I’m okay with it because I’ve got this wonderful new record, I’m gonna do the tour, and hopefully I’ll hear from Joan.

Let’s talk about some of your biggest influences as a guitar player.

Richie Blackmore. Highway Star, I gotta say – everybody knows that album. That was a real big influence on me. I had Richie Blackmore posters hanging on my bedroom walls. He was just God as far as I was concerned.

I was a big fan of Tommy Iomi of Black Sabbath, who I later became engaged to, which was really wild. Their very first album was huge. I mean, I copped all his licks. Everything that guy played I learned from. And then I met him and I became engaged to him – it was really wild. What was wild about it was that it was the first band I’d seen play live. I’d never seen anybody before, so it was my first rock concert.

That’s a hell of a first concert.

Yeah! Changed my life. I knew what the hell I wanted to do and who I wanted to be when I grew up. I thought, “That’s it! That’s what I want to be – I want to be a rock star!” [Laughs]

I love Johnny Winter. Tobacco Road. Johnny Winter to me was amazing because he played guitar and he sang his ass off, without ever looking at his guitar neck. Some of these guitar players, all they do is stare at their fret board and they hide behind their hair. Y’know, there’s an audience out there and you’ve got to entertain your audience. It used to irritate me – that’s kind of a pet peeve of mine.

So, Johnny Winter – I think he’s partially blind anyway, but just the fact that he would not ever hide behind his hair; he used to just shred on guitar – still does, I’m sure – and sing his ass off. He was such an influence, and he was so graceful on stage. Just the way he moved and that beautiful white hair.

Jimi Hendrix, of course, was another — Are You Experienced? He really was amazing because he brought on a whole different dimension to rock and roll music. He was in a three-piece band; it was just him, a drummer, and a bass player – that’s it.

Playin’ upside-down, and he made such a heavy statement with what he was doing.

Of course, Led Zeppelin – their first album.

Did you ever read the original Rolling Stone review of their first album? It was totally panned.

That’s a big fuck-up. You can’t do that to Led Zeppelin. If a writer did that to me and I felt bad about it, I would call him on it for sure and I would hope that that writer would call me back and try to make up for whatever it is that he fucked up on!

[Laughs]

Catch Lita Ford on tour with Poison and Def Leppard this summer. For tour dates, tickets, and info on her new album, Living Like a Runaway, visit Lita’s official site, Lita Ford Online.

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