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Mountain guitarist Leslie West dies at 75

LesLie West
(Image credit: Fin Costello/Redferns)

Iconic blues rock guitarist Leslie West has passed away at the age of 75 following a heart attack on Tuesday (21 December).

New York City-born West was the co-founder of the band Mountain in 1969, alongside producer, bassist and co-vocalist Felix Pappalardi. The band would play the second day of the Woodstock Festival that same year with drummer N.D Smart and keyboardist Steve Knight.

West would record a solo album in 1969 with Pappalardi (somewhat confusingly called Mountain) but the following year saw the band Mountain recorded their signature song Mississippi Queen, now with drummer Corky Laing onboard to complete their classic lineup. 

The debut album Climbing! followed and found the band trailblazing a heavier take on blues rock alongside the likes of Led Zeppelin and Black Sabbath. 

Pappalardi departed Mountain to focus on his production work and in 1972 West and Laing recorded two studio records and a live release with Cream bassist Jack Bruce under the moniker West, Bruce and Laing. 

West released numerous solo albums as well as sporadic Mountain studio releases over the years , with 1985's Go For Your Life being the first not to feature Pappalardi following his death in 1983. 

The 21st century saw West continue to tour and record with Laing, as well as collaborating with artists including Joe Bonamassa and Ozzy Osbourne. In 2011 he had his lower right leg amputated following complications from diabetes but continued to take the stage in a wheelchair. 

Although he used numerous guitars over the years including a modified Flying V, Steinberger P Series and his signature model with Dean, he will be remembered as one of the most notable Gibson Les Paul Junior and P-90 players in history for the early days of Mountain.