Despite surgery, Leslie West releasing Unusual Suspects on 19 September

Leslie West, pictured on stage in 2008, will release his new album in September. © Sayre Berman/Corbis

Despite his recent leg-amputation surgery, legendary guitarist Leslie West is going ahead with plans to release his new solo album, Unusual Suspects, on 19 September.

Although Unusual Suspects is billed as a 'solo' effort, West is joined by an impressive array of guest stars, such as Billy Gibbons, Slash, Zakk Wylde, Joe Bonamassa and Steve Lukather. Noted drummer Kenny Aronoff also lends his talents to the proceedings.

"These guys don't show up to play on everybody's albums," West said of his famous friends who grace his CD. "They're stars in their own right and fantastic players, everyone with their own sound and style, and about as far from 'the usual suspects' as it gets."

As we reported, West underwent life-saving surgery on 18 June which resulted in his leg being amputated above the knee. A long-time sufferer of diabetes, West was aboard a flight to Mississippi to perform at the Hard Rock Hotel And Casino when the limb began to swell. He was rushed to the emergency room and lost consciousness. The decision to proceed with the operation was made by his wife, Jenni, who remarked, "It was his leg or his life."

Such a life-changing ordeal would surely deter other artists, but West insisted that Unusual Suspects' release date was not altered because of his condition. In a hospital-bed interview with the Howard Stern radio show, the guitarist joked, "Now I've got to figure out how to play the guitar [while standing] on one leg."

Of the challenges he faces in the weeks and months ahead, which include being fitted with a prosthetic limb, West stated that "the prosthetic ones they have these days are really good, but of course, I'm used to balancing my weight on two feet. I'm going to have to retrain myself."

Joe Bosso

Joe is a freelance journalist who has, over the past few decades, interviewed hundreds of guitarists for Guitar WorldGuitar PlayerMusicRadar and Classic Rock. He is also a former editor of Guitar World, contributing writer for Guitar Aficionado and VP of A&R for Island Records. He’s an enthusiastic guitarist, but he’s nowhere near the likes of the people he interviews. Surprisingly, his skills are more suited to the drums. If you need a drummer for your Beatles tribute band, look him up.