Billboard Bits: Sandy West, Mario, Thomas Dolby

Sandy West, drummer for the influential '70s band the Runaways, died Oct. 21 after a long battle with lung cancer.

Sandy West, drummer for the influential '70s band the Runaways, died Oct. 21 after a long battle with lung cancer.

West was a founding member of the Runaways, which featured fellow rockers Joan Jett, Lita Ford and Cherie Currie. The group toured the world several times, often headlining with opening acts such as Tom Petty and Cheap Trick.

The Runaways' discography includes over 60 albums, singles and compilations and its music has been featured in dozens of rock and punk collections, and several films, including "Dawn: Portrait of a Teenage Runaway" and "DetroitRockCity."

"We shared the dream of girls playing rock and roll," says Jett. "Sandy was an exuberant and powerful drummer. So underrated, she was the caliber of John Bonham. I am overcome from the loss of my friend. I always told her, we changed the world."

After the band broke up, West continued to perform as a drummer, guitarist and vocalist with The Sandy West Band.

Funeral services are pending.

-- Evie Nagy, N.Y.

Originally due Nov. 17, R&B singer Mario's third album, "Effortless" will now arrive Dec. 19 via J.
As tipped here last month, the disc is led by the single "How Do I Breathe." Guest collaborators include Nelly, Alicia Keys, Akon, Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis, Scott Storch and the Neptunes.

"It's much more musical, melodic and I'm much more confident and of course my voice has changed so much," Mario told "Effortless" will be the follow-up to 2004's "Turning Point," which has sold 1.2 million copies in the United States, according to Nielsen SoundScan.

-- Clover Hope, N.Y.

Thomas Dolby will hit the road next month in support of his live concert CD and DVD, both titled "The Sole Inhabitant." Due Nov. 21, the two discs will be released independently via Dolby's own label and Web site.

The singer's nationwide trek kicks off Nov. 28 at Belly Up in San Diego and continues through the December holidays, with more dates to be announced. Dolby will co-headline with electronica artist BT. Beforehand, Dolby will perform a pair of headlining dates Saturday (Oct. 28) in San Francisco and Nov. 15 in Cerritos, Calif.

The CD portion of "The Sole Inhabitant" features live versions of songs such as "She Blinded Me With Science" and "Hyperactive." Dolby is currently writing material for a new studio album that will follow up his 2003 live disc, "Forty" (Import).

-- Katie Hasty, N.Y.