There were a few years in the late ‘80s when the teased hair, tight jeans and rock t-shirts lining Ogden’s Washington Boulevard gave it the air of a satellite Sunset Strip. And that scene was common across the country during the era when so-called “hair-metal” ruled the sales charts, the radio and MTV airwaves.
I was far from a full-fledged metalhead back then, but you can bet I was planted in front of the TV for Headbanger’s Ball once a week, soaking in every new clip from the likes of L.A. Guns, or Poison, or White Lion, or Anthrax.
Among the onslaught of testerone, Lita Ford’s videos stood out from the pack, and not just because the blonde bombshell was, shall we say, excessively easy on the eyes. Far more important than her looks were Ford’s guitar chops, and the former Runaway’s hook-filled tunes like “Kiss Me Deadly” and her power-ballad collaboration with Ozzy Osbourne, “Close Your Eyes Forever.”
When the hard-rock/metal scene took a commercial dive with the arrival of Nirvana, Pearl Jam and the Lollapalooza nation, Ford didn’t stick around for the fall, instead retreating to family life for a while before returning to the road a few years ago to play festivals and tours with other rock ‘n’ roll survivors.
On Saturday, Ford hits The Depot in Salt Lake City for a show that is the culmination of the day-long, biker-friendly “Ride for Life” benefit for Ronald McDonald House, playing with RATT. She is still touring in support of her strong Living Like a Runaway album released in 2012, and Ford will release a new live album this fall.
“It’s recorded in our hometown, Los Angeles,” Ford said of the new live disc in an interview. “It was a small club we played after coming off the Def Leppard tour. We wanted to do it for our local friends and fans, they needed something personal, so we gave it to them. We recorded it all in one go. It’s high energy, and classic!”
Ford played in Salt Lake City on that Def Leppard tour—it was the first show of the tour, in fact—and she remembers distinctly that it was “hotter than hell! We went on as the sun went down and the heat index was in the triple digits. The audience was burning up, too.”
Expect more of the same this weekend, even though the show will be inside the air-conditioned Depot. You throw a bunch of bikers who have been riding all day in a room, ready to party, and you have the makings of a scene. And it’s one Ford is looking forward to.
“I love the bikers!” she said, noting past gigs in Sturgis and at the Bike Festival in Daytona.
Undoubtedly, Ford will once again be one of the only ladies in the room Saturday night. One thing that hasn’t changed since the ‘80s metal heyday is that—despite the pioneering efforts of people like Ford, her former Runaways bandmate Joan Jett and a few others—hard rock remains largely a boys’ clubs.
“It just goes to show ya that playing a heavy sound with amazing musicians, singing and fronting the band, how difficult it truly is,” Ford said of the lack of other women on the hard-rock road.
Lita Ford and RATT play the “Ride for Life” show Saturday at The Depot at 8 p.m. Tickets are $30 in advance, $35 at the door, and available at The Depot Website.