Leslie West, the co-founder and co-vocalist/guitarist of Mountain, has died. He was 75.
West’s death was confirmed by Dean Guitars who wrote, “With a heavy heart, we are saddened to hear about the passing of #Dean Artist and part of the Dean family, Leslie West. Legendary and one of a kind. Rest In Peace.” Dean Guitars CEO Evan Rubinson shared his personal condolences via Twitter writing, “To a man that I truly loved more than most — the funniest, most honest guy I’ve met.” An exact cause of death has not yet been confirmed.
News of West’s health started to make the rounds on social media on Monday (December 21.) West’s brother, Larry West Weinstein, wrote in a since-deleted Facebook post (transcribed by Blabbermouth), “I am asking for all your prayers. [Leslie’s wife] Jenni is by his side in Florida but it’s not looking good. Thanks, Jenni, he wouldn’t have made it this far without you. His heart gave out and he’s on a ventilator. May not make it through the night.”
Twisted Sister’s Dee Snider shared via Twitter, “The final hours on this earth for the amazing Leslie West of Mountain. His voice and guitar will be silenced but his music will live forever. I am heartbroken. Prayers for him and his amazing wife, his rock, Jenni who is with him now.”
Snider added, “Leslie West and Mountain are one of the founding fathers of heavy metal. His explosive, powerful guitar playing and searing solos helped define the genre. Attending guitarists gatherings with Leslie I saw ALL guitarists bow down before him (yes even @eddievanhalen). And his influence on HIP HOP (You heard me!) is undeniable. His song Long Read has been sampled on over 750 hip hop tracks including Jay-Z 99 Problems. What an incredible force @lwestmountain was! He’s still with us but leaving very soon. Love and prayers for you my friend.”
Formed in 1969, Mountain’s original lineup consisted of West, bassist/vocalist Felix Pappalardi, keyboardist Steve Knight and drummer N. D. Smart. The band’s debut album, Climbing!, was released in March 1970 and featured their most popular single “Mississippi Queen.” Over the course of its 50+ year history, Mountain would release eight studio albums, five live albums and become one of the most influential hard rock bands of all time.
West was the subject of a recent tribute as part of “The Hanukkah Sessions,” a covers series by Foo Fighters frontman Dave Grohl and producer Greg Kurstin. Grohl and Kurstin released a cover every night of Hanukkah paying tribute to notable Jewish musicians. On the third night of Hanukkah, Grohl and Kurstin released a blistering cover of “Mississippi Queen.”
In the cover’s YouTube description, Grohl and Kurstin wrote, “Talk about making a mountain out of a mohel … named Leslie Weinstein at his bris, the singer of our next band built a wailing wall of guitar as Leslie West. Check out our take on a track from Leslie’s monolithic band, MOUNTAIN.”
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