We catch up with the one and only Lita Ford to talk about her upcoming live record The Bitch is Back…Live, her triumphant return to rock, some surprises she has in store for this Christmas season and even a book in the works she has in the works. What can we say, it’s good to be LITA!
Lita, you have a brand new live record coming out on November 5 titled The Bitch is Back…Live. Having covered “The Bitch is Back” as a bonus track on your last studio record Live Like a Runaway, is Elton John aware of you covering his song or did you seek his blessing in any way prior to or after recording it?
What we did was when Elton was performing in Ft. Lauderdale, FL at the Hard Rock Café I had my manager call his manager to let him know I would be in the area at the show and that I would be recording “The Bitch is Back” and wanted his blessing. Elton’s tour manager told us don’t worry I’ll take care of Lita. Make sure she’s here prior to the show so she can come backstage and say hello. So I went and told him I was doing a cover of “The Bitch Is Back” and he said “That’s my song!” and I said “Yes…that is YOUR song and I want to thank you for allowing me to cover it.” He said “Thank you for covering it”. He was a perfect gentleman and very happy that I was recording his song. The tour manager said “That is one rockin’ version of your song Elton!”
Your first live record was released in 2000 called Greatest Hits Live and only 4 of those 14 tracks appear on your new 12 track live record. Was this intentional and was it tough to pick a set list?
It wasn’t really necessarily intentional. It’s always tough to pick a set list. You don’t want to include too many ballads and have the audience be bored. There are certain songs that are tougher to pull off live than they were in the studio like “Shot of Poison” for instance. It’s such a bitch to pull off live. We worked our asses off in the studio to get that track just right. I remember going home for several nights in a row singing the chorus over and over again. After awhile it makes you fuckin stupid! We wanted it in the show but it just didn’t make it. It just didn’t translate well. Since we recorded this live record we have added two Runaway songs into the set list – “Cherry Bomb” and “Black Leather”. I have never done any Runaway songs in my sets in the past so it’s been interesting to see the fans reaction and it’s been overwhelming to say the least. This live record is raw. It’s not fixed up or touched up in way. None of us wanted that. Old fashioned way is the way we went.
I did get offers. I get offers to collaborate with other artists all the time. We’re doing a benefit this month for multiple sclerosis and I get to jam with a lot of people. Steve Stevens was invited, Gilby Clarke, Phil Soussan, Brian Tichy. . I’m also playing a benefit for Eddie Trunk celebrating his 30 years in radio. There I get to play with Billy Sheehan, Mike Portnoy, and Ritchie Kotzen It’s always fun to get up and jam with friends. It’s always been one big happy family with me and the guys in this industry. I’m like one of the very few women thrown into the mix.
What do you think you missed more touring and playing live or recording and creating new music?
Both. Taking a hiatus was easy because I was a mom and wanted to raise my children. At the time that was more important to me than anything else. With rock n roll and music I had been touring since I was 16 years old. When I had my first child I was 38. I had been on the road for 22 years. I wanted to devote all of my time to being a mom. I didn’t really care about playing guitar, just caring for my sons. It wasn’t until they were older and I had filed for divorce that I wanted to dig my teeth back into the music industry. The grunge scene kicked in by the mid 90’s and all 80’s artists were falling at a record rate so it added to me wanting a break. I was “hair metal” people would say to me you had big hair back then. That was the label for 80’s rock. I’m glad I’m back and rockin harder than ever.
With this current band lineup do you see getting back to writing and recording a new album sometime next year?
It’s already started. I think it’s going to be really heavy and I’m loving what we have done so far. I’m actually writing a book right now for Harper Collins. It’s nearly done. It will be out by March 2014. I’m taking the holiday season off. It’s the slowest time in the music industry. Everyone is usually taking their vacations and laying low. Unless you’re touring of course. It’s a good time to write and I’m finishing my book.
You’ve also dabbled in the world of gaming. Do “gamers” (of all ages) ever meet you and say “Aren’t you the voice of Rima from Brutal Legend?”
Actually no they don’t. What’s strange about that project is that there is a character in that game named “Lita”. When I got the script I just assumed I’d play Lita. But they told me they wanted me for the role of the Queen Rima. I made my kids play the game when it came out and they had to get quite a ways into the game before the appearance of the Queen. They loved it. So I guess it has put me into a gamer’s hall of fame or something!
On my top played records during the holidays is A Twisted Christmas and maybe my favorite track on that record is “I’ll Be Home For Christmas” – a duet between you and Dee Snider. How did you become involved with that project and has it ever given you thoughts to record your own holiday themed album?
Dee called me and asked if I would sing with him and of course I said yes. Dee is actually writing the forward to my book. He’s got such a wonderful family I love them all. But it did actually give me an idea to possibly record a few Chrismas tunes on my own. Last year right before Christmas I got a call from my old drummer Rodger Carter who has this amazing home studio in Encino. He wanted to record a Christmas song with me on vocals. I said okay what do you want to do? “Jingle Bells”? I said how the hell do we do a heavy version of that classic? Let’s just write something. So I started writing with my guitar player Mitch Perry and the two of us wrote a Christmas song. By the time we had finished it was too late to record for 2012. Christmas had come and gone. So we didn’t record it.
So this past June 2013 I called Rodger back and said hey remember that Christmas song we were going to record last year let’s do it this year. We have time now. If we start right away we can record it, master it and have the artwork done. We can release it in time for Christmas. The day we were going into record, Cherie Currie calls me and she says hey how are doing what are you up to? I tell her I’m heading into the studio to record this Christmas tune and ask her if she would like to come down to the studio and sing it with me? I’m in Ohio, she said. When are you do back in L.A., I asked? She said I should be back sometime tomorrow. We will be in the studio come right down from the airport and throw a vocal track on this song. So she did. We sang a duet on this Christmas song. It’s like an Aerosmith type Christmas tune with a “Last Child” type feel to it. It’s called “Rock This Christmas Down”. I can’t wait for everyone to hear it. It should be out in November.
Which Runaways movie/project are you fonder of – 2005’s Edgeplay; A film about the Runaways or 2010’s bio film The Runaways?
I have not seen the 2010 Runaway’s movie. From what I’ve heard from fans the movie seems to focus in on Joan and Cherie. So I’d have to say Edgeplay even though Joan refused to participate in it. To be honest, the definitive Runaways movie in my mind has yet to be made.
You have had several musicians write and record with you over the years in your solo projects but I have a question for you about Randy Castillo. I read that there is a documentary being done on him and that you have been involved in it. Could you shed a little light on this?
It’s called The Life, Blood and Rhythm of Randy Castillo. There is a website you can visit for more details. There will be a ton of interviews with former band members Randy played with. I’m doing the narration throughout the movie. It’s going to be a very moving tribute for sure.
I know that you recorded “Living like a Runaway” in New Hampshire recently so you have spent some time in New England. Do you have any other memories about playing in the Boston area clubs like The Channel?
Well the last show I did in Boston was with Def Leppard and Poison. What I remember about that night was that Gary Hoey got up and played with us and it was one of the highlights of the whole tour. I told Phil Collen that he needed to be watching our set because Gary was coming up and he came back later and was raving about our set. Because Gary produced my record he knew the newer songs in the set like nobody’s business. I also have family in Boston some cousins that live there.
Most fans are aware of the situation involving your divorce from Jim Gillette and the separation from your two sons since then. I want fans to be aware of your website devoted to this topic. Could you please elaborate a bit on this?
Thank you. It’s a Facebook page called Lita Ford’s Parental-Alienation Awareness.
I just want to bring to people’s attention that this is a form of child abuse and it should be made illegal in this country. This is the only reason my ex was able to get away with what he did. What happens is that they use the child or children as a weapon to hurt the other parent. When you divorce somebody you divorce that person not your children. Divorce is hard enough on a child without losing one parent all together. With this parental alienation that one parent tells the child not to go near or around that other parent. They will create some sort of false accusation. “You cannot go with mommy today because she might drive off a cliff and kill you.” Horrible stuff. These memories may stay with these kids for the rest of their life. Possibly bleed into their families and those kids lives. One of the reasons why it is legal is because the legal system is making a fortune of these desperate parents. They will pay any amount of money to save their child. I would give anything to save my kids. What parent wouldn’t? Please read it as there is an increased awareness.
Any final thoughts Lita?
I hope you enjoy the live album! I hope you enjoy the Christmas song! Happy Holidays and look for me in 2014 and my book in March!
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