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Lita Ford and The Cover Of The Rolling Stone….

In Music, The 80's on February 22, 2012 at 7:14 pm

OK- so after writing about Motley Crue, The Road Warrior, Sid & Nancy and the distinct differences between Creem and Hit Parader for the college paper ‘Soundings’, I was contacted by the editor of a local ‘music scene’ newspaper. This paper, ‘Vox Pop’ was available for free at record stores and supermarkets. The editor, who wore a beret, and gave off an eclectic vibe, did not come across as someone who would cover the Metal genre, but as an editor, he knew the music was blowing up, and after all we lived in the suburbs, so-duh!  He offered me a column (which I brilliantly called ‘Metal News’ Woah!) where I could write about the latest heavy metal happenings, and he  promised me I could interview some ‘real’ bands in the future! Naturally, I jumped at the chance!

Lita Ford-First cover! Next stop Rolling Stone!

After several columns, and interviews with a few local bands, I was assigned my first ‘real’ interview with Lita Ford. Formerly of the all girl band ‘The Runaways’ (with Joan Jett) Lita was now going solo, and had set her sights on rocking hard in the male dominated Hair Metal scene. Lita was edgy, and one of the first women who played guitar (her trademark BC Rich’s) and sang. The male fans loved her leather clad, sex-kitten image, and the female fans envied her guitar playing and singing (I often wonder why so many girls in the 80s- myself included- automatically saw ourselves as ‘side stories’ to the music. We might write about it, date musicians, or promote them- but rarely did we set out to participate in the metal genre as musicians. Years later, Courtney Love, pre-Hollywood! would slap some kitten stickers on an axe, write her own lyrics & music -be as badass as any guy on stage- and sing with all of the guttural magnetism of Axl Rose.  Which made me see that it could be done, if one had the guts – and the thick skin it would take to plow through the initial criticism of ‘not acting like a lady!’) Lita, being a decade or more earlier, had to walk the tight rope of presenting herself as a sex object while asking to be taken seriously at the same time. Plus, she was practically the only female out there doing it in the hard rock world, which was beyond a boys club.

Joan Jett, Leif Garret and Lita (w/Lionel Ritchie to the right)

 I headed out on the highway,on the day of the interview with Lita, in my 1982 Firebird (like the Knight Rider car,which everyone pointed out, which at the time was taken as a  compliment.) It was new quarter silver with had black louvers, and a kick ass stereo.

I was meeting Lita at a Ramada Inn the day before her show with Twisted Sister and Ratt. Of course, I was going to that show with friends the following night. I decided not to bring any of said friends to the interview- despite their incessant begging. I wanted to concentrate on Lita, and come through for ‘Vox Pop’. I knew that none of my friends could keep quiet for five minutes in general, let alone for thirty minutes in the presence of a rock star. So ,I took off, being sure I had brand new batteries in my portable tape player, a polaroid camera to get a shot or two of Lita, and my trusty pad and pen for notes. Things were pretty old school in 1984, kids!

‘Lita’

Like I said, in 1984, Lita Ford was one of the few women in Hard Rock. She was still four years away from ‘Kiss Me Deadly’ and her duet with Ozzy Osbourne ‘Close My Eyes Forever’. She had just released her second LP, ‘Dancin’ On The Edge’ which contained the hit ‘Gotta Let Go’. I was as immersed in the hard rock scene as anyone, so I felt completely at ease with discussing music with Lita, but was naturally nervous to interview a burgeoning ‘star’. Though I’d met quite a few already, I’d never had to formally sit them down, and try to extract something interesting from them about which to write. I was also naive enough to believe that if I did an interview here and there (while living my  pedal to the metal, up all night lifestyle,working and going to school- not to mention conducting a completely tumultuous love life) that I would wind up doing cover stories for Rolling Stone in no time! Looking back, I can only blush with embarrassment at my naivete!

Lita, on the Twisted Sister/Ratt Tour of 84

Lita was cool as hell- we had an instant rapport- like I said- I was waaaay into the music, and could discuss all of my favorite guitar players, shows I’d been too, rock rumors,things I’d noticed about Lita’s style, the whole nine. We were both well versed in lesser known, but phenomenal guitarists like Michael Schenker, and boy could I wax poetic about my favorite solos. Many of which Lita got excited about. “Yeah! Yeah! I love that too!” I had to cut the interview by half- that’s how long we talked. I was absolutely floored when Tony Iommi (lead guitarist in Black Sabbath) appeared at our table like a heavy-metal apparition, as Lita had just that second been raving about him as an early influence, to which I could not agree  more!

Evidently, they were dating, but Lita asked me not to mention it because the situation was a little dicey. Whatever that meant! (He was married) I was so excited to keep Lita’s secret, flattered  to be brought into her confidence, that I wouldn’t even tell the editor of the paper who ‘the Unknown Guitarist’ in the interview was!  I suppose if I’d been a great journalist, I would not only have mentioned Tony, but also led with it. Tony soon sent over two orange juices -one for each of us (no vodka, to Lita’s chagrin!) which I took as a little nod of politeness from my favorite gentlemanly Rock God!

   

Below is the interview that was in the paper. It’s really hard to piece together, but I tried. I also have the complete taped interview. Pretty cool stuff. (Oh- and Lita gave me one of Tony’s guitar picks, straight out of her pocket- a prized possession to this day!!) And no- I never did see my byline on the cover of the Rolling Stone. But I did get five copies for my mother of the one for Vox Pop! 

View from the booth!

 

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