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Music: Hard rocker Lita Ford to open for Poison, Def Leppard in Abq.

By Mike Cote

Even factoring in the normally turbulent life of a rock star, the last year-plus has been especially turbulent for Lita Ford.


But this summer, Ford, one of the members of the groundbreaking music group, The Runaways, who also went on to have a successful solo career, has hit the road touring and is having a blast doing so.

Ford and her band will stop at the Sandia Casino Amphitheater in Albuquerque Sept. 11.  She will open for Def Leppard and Poison, whom Ford has joined for several dates across the country.

“It’s been really great,” Ford said of the tour. “We have a great crew. It’s a great bunch of guys. I couldn’t have asked for a better summer. The shows have been great and the fans are amazing.”

Ford was the lead guitarist for The Runaways, an all-girl rock band formed in the mid-1970s, the lineup of which included Rock and Roll Hall of Fame nominee Joan Jett on rhythm guitar and vocals and, briefly, bassist Micki Steele, who would later join The Bangles.

Ford would find success as a hard rock act in the late 1980s, scoring Top 20 hits like “Kiss Me Deadly” and her highest-charting single to date, “Close My Eyes Forever,” a duet with heavy metal legend Ozzy Osbourne.

Ford is on tour to help promote her new studio album, “Living Like a Runaway,” the title track of which was dedicated to her time with the all-girl group.

Executives at Ford’s new independent label, SPV/Steamhammer Records, liked the name “Living Like a Runaway” for the album’s title. There was a problem, though: the song didn’t actually exist.

“At the time, I didn’t have the song written,” Ford said. “It came to me within three days, and fortunately, it wasn’t something I had to bash my head against the walls for.”

The Runaways never had a big smash hit in the U.S., but were big overseas. While Ford’s song “Living” sounds like she was generally fond of her time with the group and the adventures they went on, she said she moved on and grew as an artist.

“I don’t think The Runaways have an influence on me musically, although The Runaways helped me develop my style of music and develop Lita,” Ford said. “It was like going through college. It helps you develop who you are and your style of music. You don’t just pick up the guitar and have a style.”

“Living” is just Ford’s second studio album since the mid-1990s. In 2009, she released “Wicked Wonderland,” which was heavily influenced by Ford’s then-husband Jim Gillette, the former lead singer of Nitro.

Gillette and Ford announced their divorce in early 2011. Ford said the rather messy breakup between the two was the major driving force behind her and producer Gary Hoey’s songwriting on “Living.”

“It pretty much says what’s been going on for the last couple of years,” she said. “This is a very aggressive album … if it were me, I would have a giant middle finger on the cover.”

The album’s leadoff track, “Branded,” has hard-driving guitar riffs and dark lyrics, while the third track, “The Mask” compares a former love of Ford’s to Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (“I will never know what’s buried inside/You won’t let it show, it’s one big disguise”).

Ford also has a painfully sorrowful track in “Mother,” which is written for her sons, with whom she reportedly had a falling-out with during her divorce from Gillette, asking them to try to understand what’s happened to the family’s relationship.

Ford’s tour mates, Poison and Def Leppard, were two of the biggest hard rock bands in the world during the late 1980s and early 1990s and this tour, which has dates scheduled through mid-September, was named one of the top 10 tours of the summer by “Rolling Stone.”

Poison scored mega-hits with “Unskinny Bop” and “Every Rose Has Its Thorn,” while Def Leppard produced chart-toppers such as “Pour Some Sugar On Me” and “Love Bites.”

Ford said it can be tough to be an opening act — she saw a Motley Crue show earlier this week and said she felt bad for the opening band, which had some good music but got little attention from the crowd.

“I’m ready to headline, but I thank God for this tour,” Ford said. “I couldn’t think of a better way to spend the summer, hanging out with Def Leppard and Poison.”