Sandy West, whose ferocious drumming fuelled the influential all-female 70s US rock band the Runaways, has died of lung cancer.

The 47-year-old died on Saturday night at a hospice in San Dimas, east of Los Angeles, California.

West was only 16 when she started the Runaways in 1975 with Joan Jett, a singer and guitarist.

Along with Lita Ford and Cherie Currie, their hits included Cherry Bomb and Born to Be Bad.

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

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

Following the band’s break-up in 1979, West continued to perform with the Sandy West Band.