Mountain Guitarist Leslie West 1945 – 2020
Leslie West has died. Rolling Stone confirmed his death on Wednesday from cardiac arrest. He was 75-years-old and passed in Palm Coast, Florida.
West was best known as the guitarist for the band Mountain. The band wrote a towering rock song, “Mississippi Queen,” which appeared on the group’s debut album, Climbing! West was born Leslie Weinstein on October 22nd, 1945, in New York City. In 1969, he would go on to form Mountain, partly inspired by seeing Cream.
Keeping with the classic power trio stance, Mountain was a heavy group and were on the vanguard of a new kind of music: a heavier, guitar-driven sound. Mountain performed at Woodstock — sandwiched between sets from Canned Heat and the Grateful Dead — and went on to release their debut album shortly after. 1971 was a prolific year, which saw the band put out two LPs: Nantucket Sleighride and Flowers of Evil (partially recorded live at the Fillmore East). Both records had a big impact on Mountains’s peers.
West was an acclaimed guitarist and collaborated with Keith Richards, Mick Jagger, Ozzy Osbourne, Slash, Billy Gibbons, Zakk Wylde, Peter Frampton and more. Recently, Dave Grohl of the Foo Fighters paid tribute to the Mountain guitarist, playing the band’s classic song “Mississippi Queen” during Grohl and Greg Kurstin’s The Hanukkah Sessions.
Leslie continued to release and perform both under his own name and in various formations of Mountain over the past few decades. He forged a friendship with radio host Howard Stern that led to many appearances on The Howard Stern Show. West’s final album, Soundcheck, came out in 2015 and hit #2 of Billboard’s blues chart.
Many of West’s fellow musicians paid tribute to him as did his widow, Jenni. See some of the tributes below: