It takes more than talent to become one of the best drummers, especially for women. And Sandy West is the true evidence to this truth. She grew up knowing just to drum, and that gave her the energy to continue doing what she loved doing the best.
“Every time Sandy is behind the throne, you can feel all the emotion flowing through her sticks.” One of her fans was heard saying. “She does not just play to entertain, but to pull her audience into the action.” There is no better way to describe who Sandy West is than this.
Life and career
Born on July 10, 1959, in Long Beach, California, and died on October 21, 2006, Sandy West was an American musician best known for her drumming skills and association with the Runways.
She started playing drums at a very early age, which led her to start the band when she was only 15 years old. The Runways was the first teenage all-girl hard rock band to record and achieve the biggest success in the 1970s.
Her grandfather bought her a drum kit when she was only nine years old and encouraged her to learn them. She was also already an avid rock and roll fan for the acts in the 60s and 70s. She was so much into the music that she never stopped practicing the instruments.
There were not very many female musicians playing hard rock at the time, which could have fueled her passions to be a role model for many young women. By the time she reached 6th grade, she was already a drummer who played at the Prisk Elementary School Orchestra.
It was obvious she had a natural talent and quickly grew into a proficient drummer. By age 13, she was the only girl in local bands that played in teenage parties. At the same time, she was continuing with her studies at Edison High School with Actor Willie Aames. All the while, she was a reliable drummer in the high school bands.
Sandy West was driven by a strong ambition to become a professional drummer. She never let any opportunity that could take her to the top pass.
Hence, she sort out fellow musicians with the idea of creating an all-women rock band. She met producer Kim Fowley in 1975, which gave her contacts of guitarist Joan Jett, who was also a talented musician at the time. They started playing for Fowley, who agreed to find other female musicians for them.
The Runaways became very successful because of her efforts. Before its disbandment in 1979, she had already toured the world, playing in different places.
She later claimed the group fell apart because manager/producer Kim Fowley had not paid the members. Things become very hard for her, to the extent of engaging in criminal activities to make ends meets. She was a heavy smoker, which caused her lung cancer the spread to the brain.
She died at age 47 in October 2006. It is said that she was the only band member who never receives the post-band member she so deserved.