Leslie West was born Leslie Weinstein; October 22, 1945, and died on December 22, 2020). He was an American rock guitarist, vocalist, and songwriter. He was best known as a founding member and co-lead vocalist of the hard rock band Mountain.
On Wednesday, December 23, 2020, Dean Guitars confirmed West’s death on Twitter in a statement that read, “With a heavy heart, we are saddened to hear about the passing of Dean Artist and part of the Dean family, Leslie West. [He was] legendary and one of a kind. Rest In Peace,” the band announced on their official Twitter account.
Dean Guitars CEO Evan Rubinson also shared his condolences in honor of the fallen musician on Twitter. He wrote, “To a man that I truly loved more than most — the funniest, most honest guy I’ve met. #RIP #LeslieWest.”
During the era of fellow guitar heroes Jimi Hendrix, Eric Clapton, Jimmy Page, and Eddie Van Halen, West was revered as an equally talented, legendary guitar player.
Born on October 22, 1945, the New York native, who grew up in Hackensack, New Jersey, kicked off his career as a member of the Vagrants, a soul band that gained success in the ’60s. He changed his surname to West after his parents split.
His band, Mountain, was founded in 1969 and rose to stardom after performing at the Woodstock Festival, which they landed in the first year of their inception.
Even after his countless accomplishments throughout his decades-long career, West will forever be immortalized as the roaring voice behind Mountain’s timeless, smash hit “Mississippi Queen.“
West previously told Guitar Player that the track “had just everything you need to make it a winner. You’ve got the cowbell, the riff is pretty damn good, and it sounds incredible. It feels like it wants to jump out of your car radio. To me, it sounds like a big, thick milkshake. It’s rich and chocolatey. Who doesn’t love that?”
In recent years West had been struggling with several health issues. In 2011, the rocker had his leg amputated due to health complications related to diabetes, Billboard reports.
He spoke to the outlet from the New Jersey rehabilitation facility in which he was recovering both physically and emotionally.
“I cried a couple of—king’ times,” he sadly told the outlet. “I’d look down [and think,] ‘Where is it?’ You still feel the nerves and stuff like that. I had to make a decision, lose my leg, or lose my life. What are you going to do? But I’ll tell you; it’s a good thing it wasn’t one of my arms. Then I’d be f–ked.”
That year, West said he would be adopting a new mentality in his life, to conquer “one day at a time.” Months later, the star released his album Unusual Suspects, which included 12 tracks and several collaborations with his fellow rockers.
“I’m glad the album was all done before [the leg amputation] happened,” he told Billboard ahead of its debut. “There was no way I would even care about doing an album if it wasn’t [already done]. But I’m glad [because] it’s done, and it came out great. I’m proud of it. Everybody on there is a top-flight guitar player. Each guy was an experience in itself.
West is survived by his wife Jenni West, whom he wed in 2009.