Leslie West, co-founder, guitarist, and co-lead vocalist of hard rock veterans Mountain, has passed away. He was 75. Rolling Stone reports:
Leslie West, the towering guitarist who created the hard-rock milestone “Mississippi Queen” with his band Mountain, died Wednesday morning. West’s brother, Larry West Weinstein, confirmed the musician’s death to Rolling Stone. He was 75. A cause of death was not immediately available, but West suffered cardiac arrest at his home near Daytona, Florida 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 two and a half minutes of boisterous bliss built around West’s burly yowl and guitar blasts and drummer Corky Laing’s completely unironic cowbell. One of those never-say-die songs of the classic rock era, “Mississippi Queen” has been featured in countless soundtracks, TV shows (The Americans, The Simpsons) and in Guitar Hero III.
[...] Born Leslie Weinstein on October 22, 1945, West grew up in the New York area — Manhattan, Long Island and Forest Hills, Queens — and was a founding member of the Vagrants, a blue-eyed soul garage band of the mid- Sixties. The group (which also included his brother Larry on bass) scored two minor hits, “I Can’t Make a Friend” and a cover of Otis Redding’s “Respect” (released just before Aretha Franklin’s titanic version), before West left the band. A turning point, he once said, was seeing Cream at the Village Theatre (later the Fillmore East) in 1967. “My brother said to me, ‘Let’s take some acid before we go,’ ” West told Blues Rock Review in 2015. “So we took LSD and all of a sudden the curtain opens up and I hear them playing ‘Sunshine of Your Love’ and I see Eric Clapton and his buckskin jacket. I said, ‘Oh my God, we really suck.’ After that, I started really practicing and practicing.”