Interview: Lita Ford

Only the Strong Survive


Having spent a hectic year running around the world trying to earn half a living as a so-called freelance journalist (others may term it 'professional bull-shitter!') the last thing a knackered scribe wants to do is travel across London to do a phone interview at 10pm British time with some American rock star (who is probably basking in the Californian sun whilst being waited on hand and foot, as it is just about lunch time in LA). Add to the fact that it's the week before Xmas and the shopping still hasn’t been done, and the prospect of talking to anyone coherently at this time of night for any length of time seems very unattractive to say the least. However, when it becomes apparent that the person on the other end of the phone is the delectable LITA FORD everything suddenly changes!

It no longer seems such an effort to trek across the city, never mind the time; or the weather for that matter. How often does LITA FORD call you up for a chat? Not often enough, that’s for sure! This was one call I didn’t want to miss...

Yes indeed! Rock's Number One Woman is back! Having spent almost two years away from the spotlight, she's just returned to the fold with the release of a new single, Shot Of Poison, and a new LP, Dangerous Curves.

Having already crashed the US Billboard charts with formidable style, Lita is all set to have another go at the British market, and hopes that this new material will make here as big a household name over here as she is across the pond! And so to that call... Preliminaries over, and after a couple of false starts due to Lita having to leave the building to move here car to prevent her getting a parking ticket, we get the ball rolling...

So Lita how's life with you in general?

"Oh, everything's going great at the moment."

Good. What have you been doing in terms of promotional duties since the new album was released in the States?

"Well, we've been on tour. We started November 1st, and we've been headlining them. It was just kind of a warm-up tour for the band and for myself."

How far did the tour go? Was it coast-to-coast?

"Yes it was. The 'Whiskey' shows out here in LA were probably the best though. We played there for two nights and the second one was incredible actually. It was my hometown and the vibe was just fucking incredible at the place!"

OK, so the new band should be broken in by now, ready to make the jump to larger venues and international tours, but just who exactly has the enviable task of playing with LITA FORD these days?

"Well, we've got T-Bone Carradonna. He was in the band with me once before. He was with us for the BON JOVI tour. And I've got Jimmy DeGrasso on the drums. He's been with Y&T and WHITE LION. T-Bone's on bass. Now, those two guys are doing the tour, but weren't on the album. And David Ezrin (keyboards), who did the album, is doing the tour, and he's the son of Bob Ezrin, the producer. And Joe Taylor is playing guitar along with myself. He also played on the album."

Both the album and the single were released in the States towards the end of '91, somewhat earlier than the UK release dates. What has the reaction been like to the new product in the States?

"The album was released on November 12th, and it's doing excellent. The single [Shot of Poison] is doing very well. MTV is pushing the shit out of it, y'know. We're doing great. We're getting ready to do a new video for Playing With Fire, which will be the next single.”

The last album Stiletto didn't live up to the success of its predecessor, Lita, so would you say that album and period have been the pinnacle of your success so far?

"The Lita album went multi-platinum. We had a lot of success with that record and just gave me the credibility, y'know."

The new album contains eleven new tracks. Many of the songs are collaborations between Lita and different songwriters. So how does she go about writing new material?

"Jim Vallance co-wrote the single on this one, and the band. I did write with another guy named Michael Dan Ehmig, who's a songwriter out at Clearwater, Florida. He co-wrote a lot of the lyrics on the songs. He's an excellent lyricist. He's sort of like my partner. He's incredible."

So where does the inspiration for a LITA FORD song come from?

"Oh, I don't know. I just have a main inspiration. Just my day to day life."

Right, so most of your songs are about things that have happened to you personally?

"Well, not really. I think just people in general. Not me."

Having told us all we need to know about the new album and band, can you give us some indication of your touring plans for 1992? Having completed the successful club tour of the States as a warm-up for some serious global board-treading, will you be likely to play Britain and Europe in the near future?

"We're going to start again in the States at the end of January. We were supposed to come to Europe and England in the middle of January to do some promotion, but I'm not too sure about the actual touring side of it. I'm sure we'll be there soon. We'll be touring over there probably later on in the year"

You've been to Britain several times before. What do you think of it?

"Well, I was born there. I was born in the Queen Elizabeth Hospital [London], and I lived in Streatham. My father's English, my mother was Italian. I love England. I think it's a wonderful place. I left England when I was five, but I’ve been back quite a few times.”

You're bigger in the States than you are in the UK. Is it important to you personally to break into a bigger market over here?

"I am bigger in America but it is very important to me to me to break in England as well. It is a good rock n' roll market."

Would you say that the best way to break Britain?

"Yeah, that and press. I don't know what the radio is like in England but here [USA] it's vital. And MTV."

Getting back to the new album, which is already enjoying heavy airplay rotation in the States, and your choice of producer, you've chosen Tom Werman (MOTLEY CRUE, POISON, etc.) to call the shots. Why him?

"There were two people that we wanted to use. It was either Tome Werman or Michael Wagener. However, Michael Wagener was busy doing SKID ROW, and we couldn't get him to commit to the album, so the next logical choice was, I felt, Tom Werman. First of all he's been a friend of mine for a long, long time, and I've always wanted to work with him. His style of music with the MOTLEY CRUE albums and the POISON albums seemed to fit my style better than anybody else I could think of, as far as producers go. He was available, and he became like the sixth member of the band when he heard the music. He really became a part of our team. I think a producer's job is to bring out the best in the musicians, and that's what he did.”

Do you think you'll ever try your hands at producing yourself?

"I would love to. I would love to produce. I think that it's something that takes a lot of devotion and a lot of time, and I couldn’t do that and do my own project at the same time. I'd have to do one or the other."

Although you were born in England, you've been in LA most of your life. Do you like living there?

"Um, I live outside of LA. I live in the hills, in the middle of a mountain range. It's beautiful. It's quiet, and there's no smog, and there's a lot of horses and wildlife, and it's half an hour out of Los Angeles."

So, when you're not recording, rehearsing or touring, do you hang out in LA clubs with the other LA bands?

"No, not really, I'm not much of a clubber anymore. I used to be, but I just get hassled in clubs, plus I'm trying to lay off the alcohol. When I go there I gotta have a drink, and when I have a drink I like to party with everybody in the club, and if you go there sober it's fuckin' boring, unless it's a good band playing."

Do you still keep in touch with anyone from the LA scene who has gone on to big-time success?

"Oh, sure. Like, I went to Nikki Sixx's birthday party the other day. It was great. MOTLEY CRUE played. There was a lot of food and a lot of celebrities walking in and out. It was nice. They've done incredibly well. They used to all live half a block behind the Roxy."

You're also quite friendly with JON BON JOVI. On your last British tour ('88) he joined you on stage at your gig at the Marquee Club in London. What do you think of him as a songwriter and performer?

"I've known Jon for a long time, and I know that he's an incredibly hard worker. He's come a tremendous way with his work. As a singer I think he's great. His voice is tremendous."

Would you ever think of working with him?

"I'd love to work with him."

Some people have said that a track of the new album, Holy Man, sounds very BON JOVIish. What do you think of that?

"Well, I didn't mean to write it that way, but the chorus reminds me of Livin' On A Prayer or something like that."

BON JOVI managed to cross over into the pop charts with hits such as You Give Love A Bad Name and Bad Medicine. Would you like to have a big pop chart hit in the UK?

"I would love it; I would fucking love it!"

How have you been received by the British press in the past?

"So far I've been received pretty well. I think there's a few people out there that really love their Hardcore Metal. I like to play Metal, but I don't think of myself as a Heavy Metal artist. I might have been at one time, but now I'm just Hard Rock – it's not Soft Rock. There's more variety to being a Hard Rock artist than being a Heavy Metal artist and that's why I chose to be one."

Has it been any more difficult or any easier being a woman in Rock?

"I don't think being a woman has anything to do with it. It's a difficult industry no matter what you are or who you are. The only problem I have with being a woman is I can't grow my nails long as it interferes with my guitar playing! Other than that I can't find anything else!"

Do you admire any other women in Rock?

"I admire the PAT BENATARs and ANN WILSONs and the women that are really strong vocally. They're fucking killer!"

What about STEVIE NICKS?

"I like some of her stuff, but I'm not a big fan of her. I don't think her voice is strong. Her image is not strong."

She does seem to have come through a lot personally though. Maybe that's reflected in her song writing and in the way she presents herself?

"I think it is. I think it's reflected on everything you do. It couldn't possibly not be. Songs come from the emotions within you, and if your emotions are all fucked up, then your songs are going to be full of pain and anger."

Well in general your own material is very positive, with a live-life-and-have-a-good-time attitude, and you're kicking '92 off in style with the new album, single, and tour. How do you think the world in general looks; will the world recession finally lift?

"The recession has affected us like everyone else. When we did our club tour the clubs were full but they weren't sold out, 'cause the ticket prices were so high. But hopefully, it'll be over in the New Year; I'll be praying. Record companies are losing money because of the recession, and they're being forced to lose so many bands – they have to – and that's good."

Lite pauses for a second in mid-sentence, and then adds as a final note:

"Axe the bullshit out, and only the strong survive!"

And that just about sums her up – a survivor with both the looks and the talent to come up with the goods time and time again...100% bullshit free!!!


Nick Douglas
Riff Raff
March 1992

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