Lita Ford realizes that her last release, 2009's nü metal-inspired Wicked Wonderland, left many of her hardcore fans befuddled. So the former Runaways guitarist recorded an album much more in line with her earlier efforts: Living Like a Runaway, out Tuesday on SPV Records.
"It's a real Lita Ford record," Ford tells Rolling Stone. "It's what the fans expected from me a while back. It was something that really came natural to me. I hid away in [producer] Gary Hoey's studio and started writing and writing, like God cast some spell over me and said, 'Thou shall write songs now!' What makes this album so special is that it's real. I was able to write this album in one of the darkest times in my life. It really was a gift from God."
The "dark time" that Ford refers to, her split from husband Jim Gillette, is part of the album's larger exploration of her past and present. Runaway's title track and lead single began as a song title from Ford's longtime songwriting partner, Michael Dan, before Ford wrote the words and lyrics. "It's pretty much based around the Runaways, and during the time I had filed for divorce, I was living like a runaway. So it's a double meaning," she explains.
The title is also celebratory, as Ford recently buried the hatchet with her former Runaways bandmates. "I hadn't talked to Joan [Jett] in so long; 1980 was the last time, when the Runaways broke up. I asked my manager Bobby [Collin] if he'd put in a call to Kenny [Laguna], Joan's manager, and try to arrange a dinner for us. He arranged a dinner in New York City. I took [bassist] Rudy Sarzo with me as my date … and friend, only! Joan took Kenny with her. We had a nice dinner – it was real friendly, like seeing your sister. We talked about old times and Joan gave me Cherie Currie's contact information. When I was on the West Coast, I had dinner with Cherie."
The reconciliation may not end there, or so Ford hopes. "I talked to [Cherie] about a reunion, and I talked to Joan about a reunion. I don't know how Joan feels about it. I couldn't really get a solid answer from her," she says. "But I just wanted her to know that I'm here for her, and if she decides she wants to put together the Runaways again, I would be in 100 percent."
This year also marks the 25th anniversary of Ford co-writing her biggest hit, "Close My Eyes Forever," with Ozzy Osbourne. Ford considers its creation a lucky accident. "Sharon [Osbourne] was my manager at the time, and Sharon came to the studio with Ozzy. Sharon got bored and left, and Ozzy stayed," Ford recalls. "They had bought me a house-warming gift – a life-sized duplicate of Koko the Gorilla from the San Diego Zoo. Me and Ozzy got drunk and stoned, started writing, and we came out with 'Close My Eyes Forever.'"
Ford will be touring with Def Leppard and Poison this summer, and their tour begins the day after her album's release. "I'm honored to be on the Def Leppard/Poison tour. I know it's going to be a kick-ass tour," she says. "We're going to play a lot of the new album – it's just the best way to get it started."
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