Lita Ford was born on September 19, 1958, to a British father and an Italian mother in London, England. When Ford was four, her family emigrated to the United States, eventually settling in Los Angeles. She began playing guitar at the age of 11, and joined her first band as a teenager.
At age 16, Ford auditioned for a part in the all-girl rock band, The Runaways. Produced by Kim Fowley, The Runaways was a mix of teenage sex appeal and punk rock. Guitarist and vocalist Joan Jett and drummer Sandy West were impressed by Ford’s talent, and made her the group’s lead guitarist. The Runaway’s lead singer was Cherie Currie, and Jackie Fox played the bass. The band released their debut album in 1976, to the confusion and criticism of the rock world. Many critics considered them stereotypical “wild girls.” Despite this, the mere existence of an all-girl metal band was groundbreaking, and the group was successful in Japan.
When The Runaways broke up in 1979, Ford took voice lessons and supported herself with various odd jobs, working as a fitness instructor and a perfume saleswoman. She broke into heavy metal again in 1983 with her solo album Out for Blood, followed the next year by Dancin’ on the Edge.
Little was heard from Ford for the next few years, until her most successful album to date, Lita, was released in 1988. By this time, pop-metal had broken through to mainstream audiences, and Ford’s popularity skyrocketed. Produced by Mike Chapman, the album featured Ford’s first hit, “Kiss Me Deadly.” She scored her first Top Ten single with the ballad “Close My Eyes Forever,” a duet with Ozzy Osbourne.
Below is a gallery of 30 amazing portraits of a young Lita Ford in the 1980s and 1990s: