Leslie West, vocalist and guitarist of hard rock band Mountain, passes away at 75

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Leslie West frontman guitarist vocalist Mountain dead at 75 cardiac arrest

Leslie West, vocalist and guitarist of hard rock outfit Mountain, has passed away at age 75.

West’s brother, Larry West Weinstein, confirmed to Rolling Stone that the musician passed away on Wednesday morning (December 23). West entered cardiac arrest on Monday (December 21) and was rushed to a hospital near his home in Daytona, Florida. He reportedly did not regain consciousness.

West was born Leslie Weinstein on October 22, 1945. He founded Mountain in 1969, alongside Cream associate and producer Felix Pappalardi, N.D. Smart and Steve Knight. The band are perhaps best known for their hit ‘Mississippi Queen’. Co-written by West, the Southern rock track appeared on Mountain’s 1970 debut album, ‘Climbing!’.

Mountain’s Felix Pappalardi (left) and Leslie West performing in 1971. Credit: Don Paulsen/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

‘Mississippi Queen’ was the group’s biggest chart hit in the United States, peaking at Number 21 on the Billboard Hot 100. Recently, Dave Grohl and Greg Kurstin covered it as part of their Hanukkah cover song series, which celebrated the religious holiday by paying tribute to Jewish artists.

Mountain also had the distinguished honour of performing at Woodstock in 1969. In just their fourth gig as a band, the group joined a legendary lineup which featured Jimi Hendrix, The Who, Janis Joplin and more.

Mountain disbanded for the first time in 1972, before reforming periodically in the years that followed.

Health problems were a fixture of West’s later life. In 2011, part of his right leg was amputated following complications with diabetes. Despite these challenges, West continued to perform well into his seventies, releasing his final solo album in 2015.

Tom Morello, Slash, Paul Stanley of Kiss and Twisted Sister’s Dee Snider are among those to have paid tribute to Leslie West following news of his passing. See their tributes below.

Rest In Peace #LeslieWest. His guitar tone on “Mississippi Queen” is hands down the BADDEST guitar tone on record. pic.twitter.com/JYSt8MDjv6

— Tom Morello (@tmorello) December 24, 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/uuzPBiJDgh

— Paul Stanley (@PaulStanleyLive) December 23, 2020

For those who don’t really know Leslie West’s work, let me say this about his guitar playing. As a singer, while I respect great players, vocalists spoke to me with their melodies. @lwestmountain is the only guitarist who I connected with cause I could sing every 1 of his solos!

— Dee Snider🇺🇸 (@deesnider) December 23, 2020

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/PrMuxWnfXq

— Joe Bonamassa (Official) (@JBONAMASSA) December 23, 2020

Rest In Peace, friend. Grin opened for Mountain and West, Bruce and Lang through early ‘70’s. Sweet, bad ass blues man. Got to play together first Rock n Roll Fantasy Camp. I’ll always remember his smile as he looked me in the eye, inspired and shared his gifts. #LeslieWest pic.twitter.com/g3UWvZgb9K

— Nils Lofgren (@nilslofgren) December 24, 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

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