Drummer Sandy West, from the '70s all-female rock band The Runaways, has died of lung cancer aged 47.
West's career started when her grandfather bought her a drum kit
The influential musician was diagnosed a year ago and she died in a hospice in San Dimas, east of Los Angeles.
Lead singer Cherie Curry said: "It will never be the same for me again to step up on stage because Sandy West was the best and I will miss her forever."
West started The Runaways with Joan Jett in 1975. They went on to have hits with Cherry Bomb and Born to be Bad.
"We shared the dream of girls playing rock and roll. Sandy was an exuberant and powerful drummer," said Jett.
"I am overcome from the loss of my friend. I always told her we changed the world," she added.
Before the band broke up in 1979, The Runaways toured the world several times, often headlining with opening acts like Tom Petty and Cheap Trick.
West went on to perform as a drummer, guitarist and vocalist with The Sandy West Band.
Her manager, Mara Fox, is hoping to publish the musician's memoirs which she wrote before she died.