December 23, 2020, 3 weeks ago

news classic rock leslie west mountain


Leslie West, born Leslie Weinstein, has passed away. The iconic guitarist, vocalist, songwriter and storyteller has left a legacy that to this day is celebrated by peers and fans across the world. Tributes have poured in from members of Black Sabbath, KISS, Manowar, Arch Enemy, and more.

Black Sabbath bassist Geezer Butler: “Sad to hear of Leslie West’s passing. Such a lovely bloke. He was fantastic to us when Sabbath supported Mountain on our first U.S. 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.”

KISS’ Paul Stanley: “So very sad. Leslie’s tone could stop a rhino in a full charge. Mountain sound was massive. Leslie was a warm and lovely guy. Sad.”

Joe Bonamassa: “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.”

Joe Satriani: “RIP 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.”

Whitesnake’s David Coverdale: “RIP Leslie West…yet another sad loss…I’ve never tired of listening to Mountain.”

Vocalist Jeff Scott Soto: “So sad to hear of the passing of this legendary ‘mountain’ man Leslie West. I got to meet and hang with him for a few days through Al Pitrelli when Leslie was invited as a guest on a TSO tour years ago. RIP sir, you were a helluva guy and monstrous influence to many!”

Arch Enemy’s Michael Amott: “Rest In Power Leslie West. I love his playing, singing, and writing. A big influence on so many musicians, including myself. Leslie had THE SOUND in his hands. Was so cool to hang out with him at a NAMM dinner in ’09, what a great, friendly guy and phenomenal musican. RIP.”

Manowar’s Joey DeMaio: “Just heard that Leslie West has passed away. One of the greatest guitar players, singers, and songwriters in the world; inspiration to many of us! Now he will be reunited with one of the greatest bass players of all time, Felix Pappalardi. RIP, Leslie.”

Weinstein was born in New York City, and first emerged in the scene as a member of The Vagrants. A few years later he and Felix Pappalardi formed Mountain, a band that was amongst the first to pioneer the genre later to become known as heavy metal. Hits that include “Mississippi Queen,” “Theme From An Imaginary Western,” and others established an indelible voice and guitar tone that remains legendary to this day. In 1969, West brought his presence to the stage at Woodstock.

As the decade turned, he formed West, Bruce and Laing with his band-mate from Mountain drummer Corky Laing and Cream’s Jack Bruce. In, 1971 West contributed to The Who’s Who’s Next sessions in the city, performances which can be heard on the 1995 and 2003 reissues of that cornerstone album.

Alongside his significant contribution to pop culture as the face of Mountain, West appeared in films that include Family Honor (1973) and The Money Pit (1986).  He was a regular guest on the Howard Stern Show, and over the course of decades remained a periodic visitor alongside enjoying a decades-long friendship with the talk show host.

West was inducted in to the Long Island Music Hall of Fame in 2006, and appeared on dozens of other recordings from a vast universe of artists. Samples of his performances lived a secondary life on the masters of a who’s who of hip-hop and rap stars.

The guitarist is renowned for helping popularize the Gibson Les Paul Jr. model with P-90 pick-ups to create a tone that is undisputedly his own. More recently, he enjoyed a long relationship with Dean Guitars, releasing several signature models.

Leslie West is survived by his wife Jenni, whom he married on stage after Mountain’s performance at the Woodstock 40th Anniversary concert in Bethel, NY on August 15, 2009. And, brother Larry and nephew Max.

From 1964 through today, few artists have left a more significant mark on music as we know it. Guitarists across the globe together will unite in sadness as the world says goodbye to a true original.

Stay tuned, as tributes to Leslie West are expected to pour in over the coming hours and days. Everyone here at BraveWords offer our sincere condolences to all of Leslie West's family, friends, and fans. R.I.P.

(Photo - Justin Borucki)

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