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Sandy West, 47; drummer for the influential all-female rock 'n' roll band the Runaways

October 24, 2006|From the Associated Press

Sandy West, whose ferocious drumming fueled the influential all-female '70s rock band the Runaways, has died. She was 47.

West died Saturday night of lung cancer at a hospice in San Dimas, east of Los Angeles, her manager, Mara Fox, said. West's illness was diagnosed a year ago.

West was only 16 when she co-founded the Runaways in 1975 with singer-guitarist Joan Jett.

Along with band members Lita Ford and Cherie Currie, they had such hits as "Cherry Bomb" and "Born to be Bad."

"We shared the dream of girls playing rock 'n' roll. Sandy was an exuberant and powerful drummer," Jett said in a statement. "I am overcome from the loss of my friend. I always told her we changed the world."

Born in Long Beach in 1959, West was raised in Huntington Beach and was truly a California girl, splitting her time between surfing and skiing, Currie said.

After West's grandfather bought her a drum kit, she propelled her athleticism into music.

The Runaways headlined shows with such performers as Cheap Trick and Tom Petty as opening acts.

After the band's breakup in 1979, West continued to perform as a singer, guitarist and drummer with the Sandy West Band. She also released a solo album.

"Sandy West loved her fans, her friends and family almost to a fault," Currie said in a statement.

"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."

West completed her memoirs before she died, and Fox said she hoped to get the book published.

West is survived by her mother, Jeri Williams; stepfather, Dick Williams; and six sisters.

A private service for family members is scheduled for Saturday.

A public memorial in Southern California for friends and family is pending, Fox said.

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