Rock n' roll pioneer Lita Ford talks about the music industry, self care, and her hair routine that's as epic as her guitar sound
Musician Lita Ford is a living legend who’s paved the way for women in rock n’ roll. The guitarist, singer, and songwriter came onto the scene in the 1970s as part of the all-female teenage rock band The Runaways, and her decades-long career has cemented her status in music history. She’s got a new song on the new She Rocks Vol. 1 compilation, out today, January 20th. The album features 11 female guitar virtuosos, and Lita does a version of Led Zeppelin’s classic “Lemon Song” with tribute band Lez Zeppelin!
We chatted with the guitar goddess about what helps her stay grounded on the road, onstage, and in life.
Hello Giggles: You’re a busy lady! We’ve heard that while you’re not on the road you are constantly working: in the studio, writing music and books, etc. How do you stay sane and grounded? Do you have a daily routine of self-care?
Lita Ford: Ha, ha! I indulge in ice cream, gelato — black cherry. Lounge around in my comfy Victoria’s Secret lingerie, hang with my best friends and my dogs…shopping is great fun, too. But I also find when it gets TOO quiet, I get creative.
HG: You’re beautiful, obviously. Do you have a particular beauty routine? Do you get your nails done, and do they stay looking good while you play?
LF: I can’t handle anyone digging utensils in or under my nails, so I just cut them off completely, and paint a stripe down the middle. I don’t need them to be long, I haven’t had long nails since I was a child. I can’t play guitar with long fingernails. My hair is a huge production. I use I.C.O.N. India. Oils, replenishing sprays, shampoos and conditioners, moisturizing hairsprays…no other product works and moisturizes like I.C.O.N. India. They also make an awesome shampoo/conditioner (called Cure) that is for the regrowth of hair that has been lost from chemotherapy, it is wonderful on anyone.
For my skin, the best thing is keep it clean, wash off that makeup, don’t eat chocolate, avoid brown sodas, don’t eat fried food, and SLEEP! Make your bedroom your sanctuary! Sleep is a huge part of looking refreshed. I’ve used Rene Guinot Paris, since I was 16. You can only get it in salons, not department stores. They’ve got a product for every skin type.
HG: Do you have a particular guitar that is your favorite? And what is it about that one that you like?
LF: My fave guitars are my old ’80s-built B.C. Rich’s. I have a few vintage guitars, mainly for the studio, but my B.C. Rich’s are like beautifully well-kept, old cars that can’t be made any more. Big, strong, and powerful sounding when you fire them up. Unfortunately, Bernie Rico Sr. passed away in the ’80s and along with him went the recipe for B.C. Rich guitars, although many have tried to copy them. They haven’t nailed it completely!
HG: Do you enjoy touring, and what is your favorite place you’ve ever visited?
LF: I love my place of birth, London, England. Europe is awesome for shopping, the food, and the fans. Playing live is wicked fun, and seeing your fans face to face – nothing beats it.
HG: The music industry has changed so much over the years. What’s the biggest difference you’ve noticed? And is it better now, or then?
LF: Technology. I personally don’t like that people are able to be nasty and hateful because they hide behind their computer or cell phone. They act brave and say a lot of garbage. If they are confronted face to face, they have a different story about what they are talking about. The same goes for the music industry. We don’t need all these digital devices, it was the real deal in the past, and no cut and paste. Musically, people can lie about the quality of their musicianship through digital editing. when before they just couldn’t. It’s just too easy when it is a machine doing your dirty work for you. Sorry, truth be told. Plus, it’s expensive as hell. The real challenge in the studio was analog, not digital.
HG: What are you listening to right now? Any guilty pleasures? Are there any up-and-coming musicians whose work you enjoy?
LF: I listen to all sorts of stuff. I love Pop Evil or something riffy, I also listen to the oldies too. Elton John, Pink Floyd — love David Gilmore’s guitar playing with Pink Floyd and his solo career. I suppose it’s a mood thing. Depends on what kind of mood you are in. No matter what it is, my Marshalls make it sound amazing. Marshall makes some awesome gear for listening to music, headphones and speakers. My house is full of Marshall toys. I also use Marshall [when playing] live.
HG: How do you feel about social media? Do you run your own accounts? Which is your favorite platform?
LF: Social media is, as I said above, people hiding behind the internet and lie or be nasty. I just hit ban or delete as soon as I get the slight little bit of attitude. Boom….gone. See ya! We have a webmaster who takes care of my website with myself and my manager. It’s the three of us. It has its benefits of course — great for business, and writing my book, Living Like A Runaway, A Memoir, I would have been a lot later in the game without using a pro. But social media, texting and Facebook is an evil that allows for people to find us and invade our privacy — it has killed people, it has robbed people, it has taken away people’s jobs. Yet, we can’t live without it today. It’s the way of the day, like it or not.
HG: Have you ever felt like giving up, and how did you get through that time?
LF: I did give up music for 16 years when I had my two sons, James and Rocco. My children were more important to me than music. Besides, it was the grunge scene and no place for me at the time. But I was OK with that because I was beat and tired of touring. After the Runaways in 1976 and going solo until 1997, when I had given birth to my first son I was so ready for a break! I didn’t care how long. I just wanted to be with my sons. They became my entire world.
HG: Cats or dogs?
LF: OMG, what a question! I have two dogs, the tour mascots, that travel with me everywhere. I guess you could say they are travel size. I love animals of all kinds. My sons had two bearded dragons I loved. My father was like a Dr. Doolittle. LOL. He could talk to any animal and understand them. An amazing man. I am a lot like him on that level.
HG: How do you want to be remembered?
LF: I changed the face of rock n’ roll for women, kicked open the door, an inspiration for a lot of men and women. I carved a path that wasn’t there before The Runaways. Females were forbidden to be accepted as guitarists, or musicians. Today it is a normal part of every day rock n’ roll. I am the queen. This I can go to my grave with, just bury me with my double neck guitar ;-).