Runaways bassist Laurie McAllister dies
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Laurie Hoyt, who called herself Laurie McAllister when she hoisted the bass in L.A. bands the Runaways and the Orchids, died Aug. 25 in Eugene, Ore., according to her mother, Lavonne Hoyt. She said McAllister’s death was the result of asthma.
Born June 26, 1957, Laurie was the last in an illustrious line of foxy bass players to pass through the Runaways, the legendary all-girl band depicted in the 2010 movie ‘The Runaways.’ She joined guitarists-vocalists Joan Jett and Lita Ford and drummer Sandy West in 1978 and performed with the band live, but the Runaways broke up several months later. “Best job ever,” it said on McAllister’s Facebook profile, regarding her Runaways days.
“I am so sorry to hear of Laurie’s passing,” Jett said in an emailed statement. “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.”
After the Runaways, McAllister played bass and sang for the Orchids, another all-girl band. Like the Runaways, the Orchids were managed and produced by the infamous Sunset Strip legend Kim Fowley. They recorded one self-titled album for MCA. “Second best job ever,” Hoyt-McAllister’s Facebook profile said of the Orchids.
“She had a big heart and was one of the most interesting people I have ever known,” Orchids guitarist Sunbie Harrell wrote in a Facebook notice that announced her bandmate’s death.”Tonight, my rock sisters and I lament her loss but celebrate her exuberant life.” Harrell set up a Memorial Wall for McAllister on Facebook.
Hoyt was always a rebel girl tomboy figure, says her sister, Susan Hoyt. 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,” said Susan Hoyt. “I used to say it was so cool that the punk rock movement came around to explain Laurie.”
After the Orchids broke up, McAllister moved to Amsterdam and lived with Dutch rock star Herman Brood. She then moved back near her hometown of Eugene, living in the country. ‘She loved it there, she just loved the last few years of her life,” her mother says.
‘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,” Fowley said. “She was a giant of a woman: good-looking, smart, and larger than life.’
— Evelyn McDonnell