Lita Ford is opening for Def Leppard Wednesday at Casino del Sol's AVA. Her latest CD mines the emotional roller coaster she has been on since her divorce last year.


Lita Ford is having one of her best summers in years.

Every night, she gets to stand before packed sports arenas and amphitheaters and pound out the hard-driving rock 'n' roll that has defined 37 of her 53 years.

And when she is finished warming up the audiences for headliners Poison and Def Leppard, she stands backstage and watches the show.

"What better way than to spend your summer watching Def Leppard every night? I just couldn't think of anything better to do," she said during a recent phone interview from a tour stop in New England.

She had just played a packed show in Bangor, Maine, where she got to sneak off and take in the ocean-side sights.

"It was just beautiful. Lobsters. Out on the boat in these beautiful harbors. It's just a wicked area; it's so cool," she recalled.

Her next stop is Casino del Sol's AVA, where she will play her first Tucson show in years.

Her trek with Def Leppard started in June, the day after Ford released her latest CD, "Living Like a Runaway."

"God really did guide the record, and I went with it," she explained. "Just things came together in the most amazing way on this record. And whenever we got stuck or we got to a point where we didn't know what to do, something would happen and it was literally dumped into our laps. ... Everything was just really handed to us."

She calls the album the best she's recorded in her career, which started when she was 16 and played guitar with the all-girl rock band The Runaways with Joan Jett.

"The lyrics on this record are phenomenal. The guitar riffs are absolutely outstanding. This is the best album I've ever done without a doubt," she said. "It's the most emotional, heartfelt, hatefelt. It's aggressive, arrogant, with a touch of sex and a touch of humor. If it could have a different (album) cover, it would have one big middle finger."

The album mines the emotional roller coaster she has been on since she divorced her husband Jim Gillette in early 2011. The bitter split included a nasty custody battle over the couple's two sons. She has not had a relationship with her sons since the split, although the couple share custody, she said.

"It is really, really horrible. It's beyond horrible," she said with a sadness to her voice.

Being on the road lets Ford escape that pain. Each night as she watches the other bands perform, she wishes aloud that the summer would never end.

"It's the ultimate summer," she said.