Leslie West determined to tour following leg-amputation surgery

Leslie West, pictured on stage in 2008, will release Unusual Suspects in September. © Sayre Berman/Corbis

Leslie West plans on touring this fall with "two other guitar heroes" in support of his upcoming album, Unusual Suspects - this despite undergoing life-saving leg-amputation surgery last month.

"I'm hoping I'll have my prosthetic by then, but we'll see," the guitarist told Billboard. "Even with Mountain shows I did, I would stand and sit for the ballads and so on and so forth. But I could [stand] up. Now I have no idea what it's like because I haven't gotten that far yet. So we'll see what happens and just hope for the best."

Currently, West is living at a rehabilitation facility in New Jersey, but he is expected to return home by the end of the week. Recalling the 20 June surgery to remove his right leg just above the knee due to complications from diabetes, West said, "I cried a couple fuckin' times. I look down - 'Where is it?!' You still feel the nerves and stuff like that. I had to make a decision - lose my leg or lose my life. What are you gonna do?" The guitarist added that "it's a good thing it wasn't one of my arms. Then I'd be really fucked."

In September, West will release Unusual Suspects, a 12-song collection that features guest appearances by Slash, Billy Gibbons, Zakk Wylde, Joe Bonamassa and Steve Lukather. The majority of the cuts were written by West, but the album includes a blusey take on The Beatles' I Feel Fine and a version of Third Degree - the Eddie Boyd-Willie Dixon number was also covered by West, Bruce and Laing on their 1972 debut album, Why Dontcha.

"I'm glad it's all done and it came out great and I'm really proud of it," West said of Unusual Spects. "Everybody on there is a top-flight guitar player. Each guy was an experience in itself... It was only up to me to fuck it up!"

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.