Leslie West, the guitarist and co-lead vocalist of ’70s heavyweight hard rock outfit Mountain, has died at the age of 75, a statement from his rep confirms.
Earlier in the week, West’s brother Larry posted on social media that West’s heart had given out and was on a ventilator at Advent Health in Palm Coast, Florida.
West’s guitar company, Dean Guitars, was first to confirm the news of West’s death, though no other details were available.
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.
Posted by Dean Guitars on Wednesday, December 23, 2020
West, born Leslie Weinstein in New York City on Oct. 22, 1945, was one of rock’s great guitar players. He started his career in the 1960s with the Vagrants before forming Mountain with Felix Pappalardi and adding in keyboardist Steve Knight and N.D. Smart on drums. They were joined by longtime drummer Corky Laing in 1969. With the lineup’s blend of blues and hard rock, Mountain ushered in a new era of heavy rock and are considered one of the pioneering metal bands, even opening for Black Sabbath on their first U.S. tour.
The band’s biggest hit was 1970’s “Mississippi Queen.” The song peaked at No. 21 on the Billboard Hot 100 and more recently, was covered by Dave Grohl and Greg Kurstin as part of their Hanukkah Sessions series.
In 2011, West had his lower right leg amputated due to a battle with diabetes. West continued to perform live after the surgery.
As expected, a number of rock luminaries paid tribute to the late guitarist.
RIP Leslie West. A massive guitar influence on so many & always a blast to speak with. I knew him well. We had Leslie as the announcer on @ThatMetalShow a few seasons. He also gave me this awesome guitar. RIP to a legend & friend who will be missed. pic.twitter.com/h11n69QXz7
— Eddie Trunk (@EddieTrunk) December 23, 2020
We are saddened to learn Leslie West Mountain has passed away. We did many shows with him over the years and he will be…
Posted by Foghat on Wednesday, December 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/DZ3FLWeGpQ
— Geezer Butler (@geezerbutler) December 23, 2020
West is survived by his wife Jenni, whom he married on stage after Mountain’s performance at the Woodstock 40th Anniversary concert in 2009, his brother Larry and nephew Max.