Mountain's Leslie West Dead at 75
Tony Iommi, Robbie Robertson and more have paid tribute
Born Leslie Weinstein in New York City in 1945, West's career began as a member of Long Island rock-and-soul outfit the Vagrants. West would soon split from the group to form Mountain with producer Felix Pappalardi, naming the band after his own 1969 solo debut.
Rounding out the lineup with keyboardist Steve Knight and Canadian drummer Corky Laing, Mountain would make their debut with 1970's Climbing!, which features the band's best-known song "Mississippi Queen." Albums Nantucket Sleighride and Flowers of Evil would both follow in 1971, ahead of Mountain's classic lineup disbanding in 1972.
West and Laing would continue to record and tour without mountain sporadically in the decades to come. The band's eighth and final album, 2007's Masters of War, is a collection of Bob Dylan covers with guest features from Ozzy Osbourne and Warren Haynes.
Outside of mountain, West performed and recorded with Cream bassist Jack Bruce, the Who, Joe Bonamassa, Clutch, Twisted Sister's Dee Snider, Johnny Winter, Mick Jagger and more. His most recent solo album, Soundcheck, arrived in 2015.
Guitar greats including Peter Frampton, Slash, Tom Morello, Tony Iommi and more have paid tribute to West, which you can find below. Mountain's music — the intro drum break on "Long Red," in particular — has been sampled by the likes of JAY-Z, Kanye West, Drake, Nas, Eric B. and Rakim, J Dilla, Public Enemy and many more.
Well @deesnider Hit me earlier after news of the transitioning of my friend Ecstasy of Whodini. He told me Leslie West of Mountain was in his final moments. His Long Red has been sampled over 700 times. If you need a reference Just check the very beginning of Eric B is President pic.twitter.com/TVLwtHahT0— Chuck D (@MrChuckD) December 23, 2020
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. @lwestmountain is the only guitarist who I connected with cause I could sing every 1 of his solos!— Dee Snider🇺🇸 (@deesnider) December 23, 2020
and Leslie's playing and sound was just superb and he was a great singer too! When they came to the UK to tour he brought a gift of a similar Gibson to what he used on stage ....he was a really nice guy and will be sadly missed. RIP— Tony Iommi (@tonyiommi) December 24, 2020
Tony Iommi 2/2 pic.twitter.com/8DBj0q7JOY
Rest In Peace friend. Thank you for allowing me in your world. Leslie West was a rock and roll hall of fame member that didn't need a statue nor ceremony to prove it. He just was and will always be. pic.twitter.com/PrMuxWnfXq— Joe Bonamassa (Official) (@JBONAMASSA) December 23, 2020
Leslie West was the very first US guitar player I met when Humble Pie opened for Mountain here. Leslie's playing and sound had me glued watching everything he did. He was a sweetheart and an extremely funny man. I love you Leslie and will miss you dear friend. RIP @lwestmountain— Peter Frampton (@peterframpton) December 23, 2020
R.I.P. Leslie West. We had some great times together onstage and some legendary laughs everyday on tour. Thank you for all the great music. My deepest condolences to the West family. @lwestmountain pic.twitter.com/7zDljGMRk1— Joe Satriani (@chickenfootjoe) December 23, 2020
Sad to hear of Leslie West's passing. Such a lovely bloke. He was fantastic to us when Sabbath supported Mountain on our first US tour. He came to see us at Mohegan Sun, even though he was wheelchair bound. Mississippi Queen one of, if not the, greatest riff of all time. RIP pic.twitter.com/DZ3FLWeGpQ— Geezer Butler (@geezerbutler) December 23, 2020
Paying respects to virtuoso guitarist, Leslie West, who passed away this week.— Billy Joel (@billyjoel) December 24, 2020
— Billy Joel pic.twitter.com/C0Bbqb7eWf
Leslie West playing that Les Paul Jr with that tone and tenacity really moved me. Blessing to his friends, fans and family. #LeslieWest— Robbie Robertson (@r0bbier0berts0n) December 24, 2020
One of the GOAT.— Vernon Reid (@vurnt22) December 24, 2020
This year will not be looked upon with fondness outside of marriages & childbirth.
Rest In Chords Of Power, Fatsby.
Leslie West, Mountain Guitarist Who Belted 'Mississippi Queen,' Dead at 75 https://t.co/9DwHERUTXN via @RollingStone