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.
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. pic.twitter.com/PrMuxWnfXqDecember 23, 2020
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. https://t.co/uuzPBiJDghDecember 23, 2020
Sad to hear of Leslie West’s passing. Such a lovely bloke. He was fantastic to us when Sabbath supported Mountain on our first US 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 pic.twitter.com/DZ3FLWeGpQDecember 23, 2020
R.I.P. 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. @lwestmountain pic.twitter.com/7zDljGMRk1December 23, 2020
Thank you for everything Leslie. We will miss you. pic.twitter.com/6AueScLWjmDecember 23, 2020
Mountain's Leslie West, Who Belted 'Mississippi Queen,' Dead at 75 - Rolling Stone https://t.co/4oZaUqa24qDecember 23, 2020
With a heavy heart, we are saddened hear about the passing of #Dean Artist and part of the Dean family, Leslie West. Legendary and one of a kind. Rest In Peace. pic.twitter.com/sGmk4pF011December 23, 2020
Wow ... I’m very saddened to hear this terrible news about Leslie West. He was a major influence on my playing. God Bless you Brother.. you are Soaring with Angels 🙏🏽♥️ https://t.co/wEeLbJ6fXZDecember 23, 2020
Leslie West has moved on to go jam with EVH. As a fellow Queens N. Y. kid Leslie was our guy. From the days playing the Action House in Long Island with the Vagrants, Leslie was the best of the best. Do yourself a favor... take a trip back to 1971..... https://t.co/QRgVzfRHQo pic.twitter.com/bWERIjMqnyDecember 23, 2020
Rest in Power #LeslieWest! 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 musician. R.I.P. pic.twitter.com/WsV25hmnB9December 23, 2020