24 December 2020 12:32
Leslie West, the legendary singer-guitarist of the hard rock band Mountain, has died at the age of 75. "With a heavy heart, we are saddened to hear about the passing of #Dean Artist and part of the Dean family, Leslie West," it reads. Rest In Peace." The cause of death was cardiac arrest. Born Leslie Weinstein in New York City on October 22nd, 1945, he changed his last name to West after his parents divorced. West and Pappalardi then formed Mountain in 1969, taking the name from West's most recent solo album, which Pappalardi produced.
That album also featured the single 'Long Red', which is one of the most sampled pieces of music in hip-hop, having been used in more than 600 songs, including tracks by Eric B. Because the band shared an agent with Jimi Hendrix, they got the opportunity to perform at Woodstock in 1969 despite only having played a few shows up until that point. Mountain released their debut studio album Climbing! The song has since become a hard rock staple and has been covered by numerous acts, including Ozzy Osbourne, Van Halen, Ministry, and more. After releasing two more albums, Nantucket Sleighride and Flowers Of Evil, in 1971, Pappalardi departed from the band, and West along with drummer Corky Laing issued a series of records with Cream's Jack Bruce under the name West, Bruce And Laing.
A couple of days earlier, West entered cardiac arrest and was rushed to a hospital near his home in Daytona, Florida. West founded Mountain in 1969, and they would have their biggest chart a year later with the track, 'Mountain Queen'. The song was recently covered by Dave Grohl and Greg Kurstin as part of their Hannukah cover series, paying homage to some of the greatest Jewish artists. Mountain was also on the line-up at the world-famous Woodstock Festival in 1969, alongside Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin and The Who — to name just a few. The latter part of West's life saw the musician become riddled with health problems and, as a result of his diabetes, he then had his right leg amputated in 2011. However, this event didn't stop him from performing or making music, and he released his final solo album in 2015. Rage Against The Machine's Tom Morello posted a on Twitter: "Rest In Peace #LeslieWest. Meanwhile, Dee Snider wrote: "For those who don't really know Leslie West's work, let me say this about his guitar playing. As a singer, while I respect great players, vocalists spoke to me with their melodies." Snider then added that West "is the only guitarist who I connected with cause I could sing every 1 of his solos." Nils Lofgren also shared this precious memory: "Rest In Peace, friend. Grin opened for Mountain and West, Bruce and Lang through early"70s. Got to play together first Rock n Roll Fantasy Camp. Mountain singer Leslie West has died at the age of 75. The singer's heart "gave out" and he died on December 23 with his wife Jenni by his side. Leslie's death was confirmed by his brother Larry West Weinstein, who said in a Facebook statement before his death that Leslie wasn't in a good way. The musician had suffered from a cardiac arrest earlier in the week and was rushed to hospital but he did not regain consciousness. [West's wife] Jenni is by his side in Florida but it's not looking good," his brother had written. "Thanks Jenni, he wouldn't have made it this far without you. The New York City native rose to fame in the hard rock band Mountain, and co-wrote their most famous track Mississippi Queen. The group firmly cemented their spot in the rock hall of fame when they performed at Woodstock in 1969. Despite the short tenure of the iconic band, Mountain reformed several times and their final album Masters Of War was released in 2007. Leslie also went onto have a successful solo career and contributed to several albums such as Ozzy Osbourne's Under Cover. His latest solo album Soundcheck was released in 2015. As well as his contribution to music, Leslie had a regular appearance on Howard Stern's radio show and even dipped into acting. The star was considered one of the best rock guitarists of his time, but often downplayed his fame. Speaking to Guitar World in 1987, he said: "I'm no great guitarist technically." If you take a hundred players and put them in a room, 98 or 99 of 'em are gonna sound the same; the one who plays different, has some of his own, that's the one you're gonna remember." Leslie also battled poor health throughout his adult life, developing diabetes and having part of his right leg amputated as a result. West is survived by his wife Jenni Maurer - who the star married onstage at a Woodstock anniversary show in 2009. Tributes have flooded in for the artist since news of his passing. Black Sabbath musician Geezer Butler took to social media to reflect upon Leslie's legacy. "Sad to hear of Leslie West's passing," he wrote. He was fantastic to us when Sabbath supported Mountain on our first US tour. Mississippi Queen one of, if not the, greatest riff of all time. Rage Against The Machine star Tom Morello wrote: "Rest In Peace #LeslieWest.