Leslie West, rock guitar legend for “Mississippi Queen”, died at age 75
Leslie West (Justin Borucki)
LESLIE WEST (born LESLIE WEINSTEIN), the tall guitarist of fame “MISSISSIPPI Queen” with his band MOUNTAIN, died WEDNESDAY morning at the age of 75. He had suffered cardiac arrest at his home near DAYTONA, Fla., On MONDAY and was rushed to a hospital, where he never regained consciousness.
Released in 1970 on MOUNTAIN’s debut album, “Climbing!” “MISSISSIPPI Queen” was, according to ROLLING STONE, “two and a half minutes of turbulent bliss built around the howls and guitar sounds of WEST and the completely unironic cowbell of drummer CORKY LAING”. The song became an anthem of the era, appearing in soundtracks, television shows, and the Guitar Hero III video game. WEST told GUITAR PLAYER in an interview that the song “has everything you need to make it a winner. You got the bell, the riff is damn good, and it sounds amazing. It feels like it. wants to jump out of your car stereo. To me, that looks like a big thick milkshake. It’s rich and chocolatey. Who doesn’t like that? “
WEST was a giant among the rock guitar gods, compared to ERIC CLAPTON, JIMMY PAGE and JIMI HENDRIX at their peaks. In 2011, EDDIE VAN HALEN told ROLLING STONE that WEST’s RITCHIE BLACKMORE and DEEP PURPLE were among his biggest influences:
Born LESLIE WEINSTEIN on OCTOBER 22, 1945, the gritty-voiced WEST grew up in the NEW YORK area as a founding member of VAGRANTS, scoring two minor hits, “I Can’t Make a Friend” and a cover of “OTIS REDDING “Respect” before WEST left the band.
With the help of producer and bassist CREAM FELIX PAPPALARDI, WEST released a solo album, “Mountain”, which became the name of the group the two men formed, as WEST said with regret because “I was large”.
MOUNTAIN was presented at the WOODSTOCK festival on the second day between CANNED HEAT and THE GRATEFUL DEAD.
“I think I had the most amplifiers of them all out there,” WEST told ROLLING STONE. “It was paralyzing because this scene, this setting, was a kind of natural amphitheater. The sound was so loud and shocking that I got scared. But once I started playing, I kept going because I was afraid to stop.
MOUNTAIN broke up in 1972, WEST forming a power trio with MOUNTAIN drummer CORKY LAING and CREAM bassist JACK BRUCE. The band released three albums and sold out CARNEGIE HALL, but in 1974 WEST reformed into MOUNTAIN for two more records.
WEST went solo with “The Great Fatsby”, with “High Roller”, co-written by WEST with MICK JAGGER and KEITH RICHARDS; with JAGGER playing the guitar.
WEST’s health had been a problem in recent years, with heroin addiction and diabetes resulting in the amputation of his right leg. Her weight has continued to fluctuate over the years.
WEST moved to DAYTONA last month. He is survived by his wife JENNI MAURER; whom he married on stage at a WOODSTOCK 40th anniversary concert in 2009.
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