book review: Living Like a Runaway – Lita Ford

review by richard archer

 ‘Living Like A Runaway’ is Lita Ford’s memoir of her ascent to fame in the male-dominated music business of the 1970s and 1980s via punk legends The Runaways and a decade-strong solo career that followed. Featuring a cast of characters appropriate to that time, there are some reveals that can be read elsewhere (Sid Vicious was a good guy when he wasn’t doing smack) and some that can’t (Richie Blackmore studied ballet!). But whereas other memoirs trade on these bit-part players, this book is solely Lita’s.

Along the way, she cements her hard-as-nails status with recollections of head-bleeding fights with girl gangs at the local shopping centre, backline-trashing of rival groups and out-duelling guitar heroes from her teenage years. Drug misuse (another rock memoir staple) features throughout but never consumes the pages with self-pity. In fact no apologies are offered for any such shenanigans on her part which further strengthens the image of a musician comfortable in her own skin.

Against type, things only start going wrong for Lita as she retreats from rocknroll in the middle of the 1990s to play the part of a devoted wife. The too-frequent moving of homes with her new family is described with a drudgery that relentless touring schedules are rarely given in this book, and her subservience to an opportunistic partner seems so off-character it’s a testament to the quality of writing here that you fully get the sense of someone adrift in domesticity.

Lita’s restoration to ‘Queen of Metal’ status with a new album and renewed friendships with her Runaways makes for an uplifting and relieving end to this great book, portraying a woman for whom the buzz of an amplifier and the roar of a crowd are like oxygen. You don’t need to be a fan of either the Runaways or her solo records to find inspiration in this driven and likeable characters life.

Living Like a Runaway by Lita Ford is published by HarperCollins, and is available from all good bookshops (especially the independent ones!)

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