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    Monday, October 23, 2006

    Sandy West

    Sandy West, drummer for the influential 70s band The Runaways, died Saturday the 21st of October, after a long battle with lung cancer. She was 47 years young.

    She left an indelible mark on rock music as a founding member of The Runaways, which featured fellow rockers Joan Jett, Lita Ford and Cherie Currie, and as a leading inspiration for a number of notable musicians, both male and female. Many young musicians can trace their inspiration directly to the first time they heard "Cherry Bomb."

    Pictured above: The Runaways from 1976; Lita Ford, Joan Jett, Jackie Fox, Sandy West and Cherie Currie.

    The Runaways toured the world several times, often headlining with opening acts like Tom Petty and Cheap Trick. Their discography includes over 60 albums, singles, bootlegs and compilations. Their music has been included in dozens of rock and punk collections, has appeared in several feature films including Dawn: Portrait of a Teenage Runaway and Detroit Rock City, and has been covered by numerous bands, from The Street Walkin' Cheetahs to Guns 'N' Roses. They were nominated for the Hollywood Rock Walk, and bootlegs of Runaways performances are still highly prized amongst rock and roll collectors around the world.

    The Runaways pictured below from 1976: Top left; Joan Jett,Jackie Fox and Lita Ford. Bottom left; Sandy West and Cherie Currie.

    After the band broke up, Ms. West continued to perform as a drummer, guitarist and vocalist with The Sandy West Band. As a solo artist she recorded a highly collectible EP CD and numerous videos, and continued to enjoy the adoration of a dedicated cult following.

    She will be remembered by more than one generation of fans as a strong part of their musical landscape, but her impact was felt far outside of the music industry as a loyal friend, loving confidante and strong defender of those she loved most. Her strength as a player, passion as a person, and dedication as a friend will be remembered always by friends, fans and fellow musicians alike.

    Runaways vocalist and life-long friend, Cherie Currie had this to say, “Sandy West was by far, the greatest female drummer in the history of rock and roll. No one could compete or even come close to her, but the most important was her heart. Sandy West loved her fans, her friends and family almost to a fault. She would do absolutely anything for the people she loved. It will never be the same for me again to step on a stage, because Sandy West was the best and I will miss her forever.”

    Commented Joan Jett: "I started THE RUNAWAYS with Sandy West. We shared the dream of girls playing rock and roll. Sandy was an exuberant and powerful drummer. So underrated, she was the caliber of John Bonham. I am overcome from the loss of my friend. I always told her we changed the world."

    written by CHRISTY LINDSAY

    Rock City Records

    The Runaways on MySpace Music

    West was only 16 when she met and began playing with guitarist Jett in 1975. Around the same time, longtime Los Angeles producer Kim Fowley met teen songwriter Kari Khrome and envisioned an all-girl rock group.

    Future Bangle Michael Steele was an early member, but left after conflicts with Fowley. Lita Ford, Cherie Currie and Jackie Fox were soon recruited to join the band.

    Influenced by glam rock and the burgeoning punk scene, the band would release their self-titled debut album in 1976. The opening track, Cherry Bomb, would become their best known song.

    Currie and Fox would leave after the second album. Jett took over lead vocal duties from Currie, while Fox was replaced by Vicki Blue.

    While huge in Japan, the band could only achieve a cult following in the U.S. With provocative outfits and risqué material, many critics couldn't see past their jailbait image, with matters not helped by the often hyperbolic promotion of controversial manager Fowley.

    The band would record three more studio albums before disbanding in 1979. Jett and Ford would achieve success as solo artists in the 1980s, while Currie briefly pursued an acting career. Blue would direct "Edgeplay", a 2004 documentary about the Runaways.

    Even with the effects of her radiation treatment draining her strength during her battle with cancer, she retained her sense of humour and said she discovered the joys of daytime television. This past August she said, "I'm addicted to 'All My Children' now...who would've thought that, right?", and her favorite nighttime show was "Grey's Anatomy".

    Sandy...everyone at The Time Machine will miss you...


    At 4:22 PM, Blogger Frank Gualtier said...

    Excellent -- thanks so much for writing this. I'm old enough to remember The Runaways. Also many people don't realize that Michael Steele, bass player for The Bangles during their most famous years, was briefly part of The Runaways (as Micki Steele I believe). That's a lot of famous ladies from one group! Sandy will be missed.

    At 5:27 PM, Blogger The Time Machine said...

    Yes. Bangles bassist Micki Steele along with Joan Jett formed The Runaways in 1975.

    Still remember playing "Queens of Noise" from The Runaways as a heavy current on the radio back in the day.

    Sandy was a class act. She is missed.

    At 7:43 AM, Anonymous Waydutch said...

    Thanks for send me here from my MOG post on the Runaways; Very nice write up, better than mine anyway... and adds alot of info I skipped over. Will have to explore around hear more now : )


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