every day brings a new rock and roll obit -- and i've already got one for october 21 -- but sandy west's passing on saturday surely deserves mention.
ms. west was the strong and straight-ahead drummer for the runaways. they were marketed in the mid-seventies as a gimmicky jailbait fantasy, but joan jett, lita ford, ms. west, and their bandmates somehow reappropriated themselves as rockers real and true. some dismiss the music and cheesy stage clothes, especially the creepier stuff crafted by manager kim fowley. people who wouldn't waste their time dismissing, say, aerosmith or thin lizzy, go way out of their way to dismiss female bands such as the runaways. but anyway...
they have lived on and, in my view, they still hold up pretty well -- at least in relation to andy gibb, kansas, and other luminaries of the period. i like this playin' with fire video from 1977 because it shows them as just another rock and roll band -- restringing guitars, testing mics, and eating junk. i can't prove it, but i think such statements by the runaways went a long way toward establishing once and for all that sixteen-year-old girls could rock just like sixteen year-old boys.
of course, an all-girl band seeking rock cred at the height of the bonham era needed a powerful drummer, and ms. west was more than up to the task. i'm guessing that lori barbero of babes in toyland wore out the grooves in her runaways albums. a site called femaledrummer.com ranks ms. west #11 in their top 100 list, with this description: The hardest woman on the list. Slick, incredible R&R power. Not just T&A. that sounds about right -- and it just might describe ol' bonzo too.