The Runaways drummer looses battle with lung cancer
Artist biography Sandy West
Sandy West (Long Beach, California, 1959) was drummer for the influential '70s band The Runaways. She died Saturday, October 21, 2006 after a long battle with lung cancer.
Sandy West 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 the song Cherry Bomb.
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 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.
After the band's breakup, Sandy West teamed with Lita Ford for a short period and continued to play. She fronted The Sandy West Band in the 80s and has appeared from time to time with former bandmate Cherie Currie. She released an EP of her own material and became an artist on Rocket City Records.
Over time, Sandy proved that she was much more than just a hard rocking drummer. She wass also a talented front-woman, guitarist and songwriter, and often jumped from drums to the lead mic during shows.
Sandy West has inspired a wide number of drummers, male and female alike, and attacked her drums with a passion reserved for those who were truly born to play.
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.
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."
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."