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Pioneering rocker Ford talks about prospering in male-dominated heavy metal field

Pioneering rocker Ford talks about prospering in male-dominated heavy metal field

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Lita Ford could rock harder than any guy guitarist in the business.

Plus she looked better in Spandex while doing it.

That was the case the London-born, Long Beach, California-raised Ford got her start as a member of the groundbreaking all-female group The Runaways in 1975.

It continued when she became a household name -- and face -- as the "Queen of Metal" in the 1980s.

Ford remains a musical force to be reckoned with as one of the headliners on Bret Michaels Hometown Heroes Tour, at 7 p.m. Friday, at the Tyson Events Center, 401 Gordon Drive.

"When I was growing up, I taught myself how to play lead guitar by listening to Jimi Hendrix and Ritchie Blackmore," she explained. "It never dawned on me that this was anything out of the ordinary."

This certainly didn't raise any warning flags for Ford's parents -- a former British soldier and his full-blooded Italian wife.

"My parents were completely supportive of me," she said. "Even during those nights when I'd call my dad, drunk out of my head, asking him to pick me up from God knows where, he'd do it, no questions asked." 

Indeed, Ford is very candid about living a rock and roll lifestyle that began when she was recruited to join The Runaways at age 16. 

After recording such seminal hits as "Cherry Bomb" and "Queen of Noise," The Runaways disbanded and Ford carried on as a solo artist.

Was Ford aware that she was one of the few females during the "hair metal" era to actually wield an ax?

"Yeah, the audiences always accepted me even when some of the guy musicians didn't," she admitted. "Once they heard me play, I was in."

Ford was anything but one of the boys.

In fact, duets with Motley Crue's Nikki Sixx ("Falling In and Out of Love") and Ozzy Osbourne ("Close My Eyes Forever") solidified her status as a sex symbol.

"The '80s were a crazy time for me," Ford said. "Nikki was a blast to work with and, of course, Ozzy was a wild man back then."

"For a while, Sharon Osbourne was actually my manager," she continued with a laugh. "Can you believe having Sharon as your manager? Sharon was incredible though."

Throughout the years, Ford has continued to cement her reputation as one of rock's top guitarists.

And her music remains as timeless as ever.

"When I hear 'Cherry Bomb' in (the 2014 movie) 'Guardians of the Galaxy' and 'Kiss Me Deadly' in (2019's) 'Captain Marvel,' I say to myself, OK, that's pretty awesome!"

After all, Ford knows her fan base expands every time one of her songs is used on a soundtrack.

Still, she's showing no signs of slowing down. Especially when she's spending time with friends.

Discussing her Hometown Heroes tour mates, (Bret Michaels, Joe Nichols and Night Ranger), Ford described them collectively as "the boys."

"What else can you call people you've know forever?" she asked. "Every night is a jam session because these guys are a joy to be on the road with.

"Let me tell ya, I've worked with some good guys and I've worked with even more a-holes," Ford added with panache. "These guys are the good ones."

It's been more than 30 years since the release of her multi-platinum, self-titled "Lita" album and nearly 45 years since the release of the debut album of The Runaways.

While she acknowledged the music industry is a very different place, Ford remained modest about her role as a female rock and roll pioneer.

"When I was growing up, I wanted to be a rock and roll star," she said. "I've been living that dream ever since."

   

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