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Laurie McAllister 8/2011

laurie mcallister, bass with the runawaysAugust 25, 2011 – Laurie McAllister was born Laurie Hoyt on June 26, 1957 in Eugene Oregon.

Laurie McAllistar was a bassist who is perhaps best remembered for being the last one to play in the influential 1970s all-girl rock band, the Runaways. McAllister landed in Hollywood in her early twenties where she played in such local punk outfits as the Rave Ons and Baby Roulette. In November 1978, McAllister was asked to join the Runaways (replacing Vickie Blue for health reasons as it was reported), whose line-up at the time was Joan Jett, Cherie Curie, and Sandy West. Laurie was referred to the band by her neighbor, Duane Hitchings, who played keyboards on And Now… The Runaways.

She never had the chance to record with the group. Laurie appeared onstage with the Runaways at their final shows in California during the last weeks of December 1978 and McAllister quit soon after in January 1979, three months before the band officially parted. Disagreement between band members included the musical style; Joan Jett wanted the band to take a musical change, shifting towards punk rock/glam rock while Lita Ford and Sandy West wanted to continue playing hard rock/heavy metal music. Neither would accept the other’s point of view. Finally, the band played their last concert on New Year’s Eve 1978 at the Cow Palace near San Francisco and officially broke up in April 1979.McAllister became the 6th bassist in the band’s four year history. On her Facebook page, she listed her time in the band as the “Best job ever.”

McAllister went on to play in another Kim Fowley affiliated all-girl rock band, the Orchids, who released one album on MCA Records in 1980.

The Orchids were formed rather ironically from two Bomp Records manager Fowley was producing at the time, Vampires From Outer Space and Hollywood Confidential. Blonde bombshell drummer Laurie Bell had recorded the track ‘If You’re Gonna Change Your Heart’ for Vampires. The album also featured Laurie McAllister playing bass and singing lead in the group Baby Roulette And The Rave Ons on a tune entitled ‘Black Orchids’. Laurie McAllister was also featured as lead vocalist on a tune called ‘On Suburban Lawns’ on Hollywood Confidential, that was billed as The Runaways. Laurie Bell had actually worked with Fowley previously on his Sunset Blvd album, appearing on the improvised title track. Joining forces with Laurie Bell and Laurie McAllister were vocalist / guitarist Jan King (from Stingray and The Wads) and guitarists Sunbie Harrel and Che Zuro, who Fowley recruited from Backstage Pass.

After the Orchids broke up in 1980, McAllister moved to Amsterdam where she lived with Dutch rock star and artist, Herman Brood who committed suicide by jumping off the roof of the Amsterdam Hilton, after having been diagnosed with inoperable cancer in 2001.

After retiring from music, she became a veterinary technician and eventually settled back in the countryside of her hometown of Eugene, Oregon.

Laurie McAllister died from complications of asthma on August 25, 2011. She was 54.

“She had a big heart and was one of the most interesting people I have ever known. Tonight, my rock sisters and I lament her loss but celebrate her exuberant life.” – Sunbie Harrell

“Laurie was always a rebel girl tomboy figure. The neighborhood kids teased her for wearing high-tops; at age 8, she begged her parents to let her have a mohawk. She fit the Runaways perfectly. I used to say it was so cool that the punk rock movement came around to explain Laurie.” – Susan Hoyt

“Laurie was one of the tragic figures in rock ‘n’ roll, who did everything right — she looked the part, she wrote the part, she performed the part, she sang the part — but never with the right people at the right time. She was a giant of a woman: good-looking, smart, and larger than life.” – Kim Fowley

“I am so sorry to hear of Laurie’s passing. She was a good person and a good bass player. It was a great experience being in a band with her, as she was the last Runaways bass player before her own band, The Orchids, formed. I was still in touch with her and saw her last year at a show. It was as if no time had passed. My heart goes out to her family and friends, and most of all, to Laurie. Rock on girl.” – Joan Jett

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