West, born Leslie Weinstein, died earlier today (Wednesday, December 23) at the age of 75. The iconic guitarist, vocalist, songwriter and storyteller has left a legacy that to this day is celebrated by peers and fans across the world.
Weinstein was born in New York City, and first emerged in the scene as a member of THE VAGRANTS. A few years later, he and Felix Pappalardi formed MOUNTAIN, a band that was amongst the first to pioneer the genre later to become known as heavy metal. Hits that include “Mississippi Queen”, “Theme From An Imaginary Western” and others established an indelible voice and guitar tone that remains legendary to this day. In 1969, West brought his presence to the stage at Woodstock.
As the decade turned, he formed WEST, BRUCE AND LAING with his bandmate from MOUNTAIN drummer Corky Laing and CREAM‘s Jack Bruce. In, 1971, West contributed to THE WHO‘s “Who’s Next” sessions in the city, performances which can be heard on the 1995 and 2003 reissues of that cornerstone album.
Alongside his significant contribution to pop culture as the face of MOUNTAIN, West appeared in films that include “Family Honor” (1973) and “The Money Pit” (1986). He was a regular guest on “The Howard Stern Show”, and over the course of decades remained a periodic visitor alongside enjoying a decades-long friendship with the talk show host.
West was inducted in to the Long Island Music Hall Of Fame in 2006, and appeared on dozens of other recordings from a vast universe of artists. Samples of his performances lived a secondary life on the masters of a who’s who of hip-hop and rap stars.
The guitarist is renowned for helping popularize the Gibson Les Paul Jr. model with P-90 pick-ups to create a tone that is undisputedly his own. More recently, he enjoyed a long relationship with Dean Guitars, releasing several signature models.
West is survived by his wife Jenni — whom he married on stage after MOUNTAIN‘s performance at the Woodstock 40th-anniversary concert in Bethel, New York on August 15, 2009 — brother Larry and nephew Max.
From 1964 through today, few artists have left a more significant mark on music as we know it. Guitarists across the globe together will unite in sadness as the world says goodbye to a true original.
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/DZ3FLWeGpQ
— Geezer Butler (@geezerbutler) December 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/7zDljGMRk1
— Joe Satriani (@chickenfootjoe) December 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/wEeLbJ6fXZ
— NEAL SCHON MUSIC (@NealSchonMusic) December 23, 2020
R.I.P Leslie West…Yet another sad loss…I’ve never tired of listening to Mountain…???❌❌❌ pic.twitter.com/6YjVnFLJOL
— David Coverdale (@davidcoverdale) December 23, 2020
Just heard that Leslie West has passed away. One of the greatest guitar players, singers, and songwriters in the world; inspiration to many of us!
Now he will be reunited with one of the greatest bass players of all time, Felix Pappalardi.
RIP, Leslie#Mountain #Legend
— Joey DeMaio (@realJoeyDeMaio) December 23, 2020
— BPMD (@BPMDofficial) December 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/bWERIjMqny
— Steve Stevens (@Stevestevens) December 23, 2020
So sad to hear of the passing of this legendary ‘mountain’ man Leslie West. I got to meet and hang with him for a few days through Al Pitrelli when Leslie was invited as a guest artist on a TSO tour years ago. RIP sir, you were a helluva guy and monstrous influence too many!! pic.twitter.com/vmiKXjyNU2
— Jeff Scott Soto (@jeffscottsoto) December 23, 2020
— Todd Dammit Kerns (@todddammitkerns) December 23, 2020
Damn 2020! #LeslieWest the legendary guitarist of the great band #mountain has left us. You were an inspiration to so many fans and guitar players. (I know @MW_Schenker mentioned you as big influence). God speed Mr. West. @lwestmountain #ripLeslieWest
— Marten Andersson (@anderssonmarten) December 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/WsV25hmnB9
— ??????? ????? (@Michael_Amott) December 23, 2020
RIP LESLIE WEST!! Everything about the man, from his Gtr sound to his Soul was Huge!! Cheers man!! pic.twitter.com/52XNQIKAJP
— REX BROWN (@REJASFROMTEJAS) December 23, 2020