R.I.P. Runaways drummer Sandy West

Monday's Joan Jett show at First Avenue took on added significance when Jett's former Runaways bandmate Sandy West died Saturday after a long battle with lung cancer. The Runaways made their debut Twin Cities appearance in 1976 at the State Theatre, sandwiched between the Suicide Commandos and The Ramones.

Wrote Christy Lindsay for the Runaways website:

"(Sandy) 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.'

"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.

"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.'"

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Sandy West and Joan Jett

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The Runaways: Joan Jett, Lita Ford, Vickie Blue, Sandy West.

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Clockwise: Ford, West, Blue, Jett, Cherie Curry.

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