Leslie West / Former Mountain Frontman dies at 75

23 December 2020

Dean Guitars have reported that Leslie West, the Mountain guitarist and singer, has tragically passed away. This follows reports that Leslie was gravely ill and near death after his heart stopped and he was put on a ventilator.

Dee Snider said “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.

“Leslie West is the only guitarist who I connected with cause I could sing every one of his solos!”

Dean Guitars CEO Evan Rubinson said: “To a man that I truly loved more than most — the funniest, most honest guy I’ve met.”

Born in New York City in 1945, West spent time working his way through R&B and blues bars with his early group The Vagrants before a meeting with future bandmate Felix Pappalardi. The duo would go on to form Mountain in 1969.

Arguably one of the very first hard rock bands as we know them today, Mountain swiftly gained success with songs like ‘Mississippi Queen’ and ‘Theme for an Imaginary Western, all drenched with West’s feedback laden lead guitar. Mountain played the Woodstock festival and went on to support The Jeff beck Group, Jethro Tull and Blood Sweat & Tears amongst others.

Although not a hugely commercial group, Mountain and West himself made occasional appearances and comebacks throughout the late 70’s and 80’s, eventually playing Knebworth in 1985 alongside Deep Purple and Meatloaf. West also cultivated his own solo career in the blues.

Leslie West, RIP

West had been suffering from health issues and complications from diabetes for several years but this did not stop him making guest appearances with a generation of guitar players influenced by his fiery playing.

Everyone from Zakk Wylde and Joe Bonamassa to Jared James Nichols has cited West as an influence and his 2013 solo album ‘Still Rising’ saw everyone from Mark Tremonti to Dee Snider appear to play and sing alongside West.

His music has even been taken up by artists as diverse as the rapper Jay Z, who sampled Mountain on his breakout track ’99 Problems’.

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