Classic Rock News

Leslie West, Mountain frontman and influential hard-rock guitarist, dead at 75

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Rahav Segev/Getty Images

Mountain frontman Leslie West died Wednesday morning, his brother, Larry West Weinstein, confirmed to Rolling Stone. He was 75.

Larry told the magazine that Leslie suffered cardiac arrest Monday at his home near Daytona, Florida, and was was taken to a local hospital, but he never regained consciousness.

West first came to fame as the singer and lead guitarist of the Long Island, New York-based garage band The Vagrants, which also featured Larry. After leaving the group, West released a debut solo album in 1969 titled Mountain, then subsequently formed a band named Mountain with bassist Felix Pappalardi, keyboardist Steve Knight and drummer N.D. Smart.

Mountain famously played the 1969 Woodstock festival, although they didn’t appear in the 1970 concert movie about the event. Later that year, Smart was replaced by Corky Laing.

Mountain’s debut album, Climbing!, was released in 1970 and featured the band’s signature song, “Mississippi Queen,” which peaked at #22 on the Billboard Hot 100. The album reached #17 on the Billboard 200. The group had similar success with its second album, 1971’s Nantucket Sleighride, which peaked at #16 on the the Billboard 200.

West was considered an influence on many hard-rock guitarists, including Pete Townshend, Randy Rhoads, Eddie Van Halen, Richie Sambora and Joe Satriani. Leslie played guitar on some sessions for The Who‘s classic 1971 album Who’s next, although his contributions didn’t appear on the record.

After Mountain broke up in 1972, West teamed up with Laing and ex-Cream singer/bassist Jack Bruce to form the short-lived trio West, Bruce & Laing.

Mountain re-formed numerous times over the years with various lineups, although Pappalardi died in 1983.

Leslie also released many solo albums during his career. In later years, West struggled with poor health, and in 2011 he lost his lower right leg to diabetes.

West’s most recent album, Soundcheck, was released in 2015. It included guest appearances by Bruce, Peter Frampton and Queen‘s Brian May.

By Matt Friedlander
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