Infobox musical artist
Name = Leslie West
Background = solo_singer
Born = Birth date and age|1945|10|22|mf=y
New York City
Genre = Rock,
Hard rock, Blues-rock, Southern rock, Heavy metal
Associated_acts = Mountain,
West, Bruce and Laing, The Vagrants
Label = Sony,
Blues Bureau International, Lightyear
Years_active = 1965 - present
Notable_instruments = Gibson Les Paul Jr. Dean Leslie West signature model Electra signature MPC model Ed Roman Leslie West signature model
Leslie West (born
October 22, 1945) is an American rock guitarist, singerand songwriter.
West was born Leslie Weinstein in
New York City, and grew up across Long Island, in East Meadow, Forest Hills and Lawrence. [Fischler, Marcelle S. [http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=950DE7DC1030F936A25753C1A9609C8B63 "Nascent Hall of Fame to Welcome First Honorees"] ., " The New York Times" , October 15, 2006. Accessed November 26, 2007. "Dee Snider of Stony Brook, the shock-rocker from the 1980's heavy metal band Twisted Sister, known for his defiant metal anthem "We're Not Gonna Take It," and Leslie West of the band Mountain, who grew up in East Meadow, Lawrence and Forest Hills, are also being inducted..."] After his parents divorced, he changed his surname to West. His musical career began with The Vagrants, an R&B/ Blue-eyed soul-rock band influenced by the likes of The Rascalsthat was one of the few teenage garage rockacts to come out of Manhattanitself (as opposed to the Bohemian Greenwich Villagescene of artists, poets and affiliates of the Beat Generation, which produced bands like The Fugsand The Velvet Underground). The Vagrants had two minor hits in the Eastern US: 1966's "I Can't Make a Friend" and a cover of Otis Redding's " Respect" the following year.
Some of the Vagrants' recordings were produced by
Felix Pappalardi, who was also working with Cream (he produced the seminal " Disraeli Gears"). In 1969, West and Pappalardi would form the pioneering hard rockact Mountain, also the title of West's solo debut album. 1969's "Mountain" did not feature a keyboardist, but one was later added to the band to keep them from seeming like a Cream imitation.
The band's original incarnation saw West and Pappalardi sharing vocal duties and playing guitar and bass, respectively, and
Corky Laingon drums with keyboardist Steve Knight. They had success with " Mississippi Queen", which reached #21 on the Billboard chartsand #4 in Canada. It was followed by the Jack Bruce-penned "Theme For an Imaginary Western". Mountain made up one of the bands considered to be a forerunner of and predecessor to heavy metal music. After the breakup of Mountain, West and Laing would produce two studio albums and a live release with Cream bassist Jack Bruceunder the name West, Bruce and Laing. Mountain reformed in 1974 only to break up a few years later, but since 1985 has continued to tour and record.
West also recorded with
The Whoduring the 1971 " Who's Next" sessions on a cover of Marvin Gaye's "Baby Don't You Do It". Though the track was not originally included on the album, it appeared on the 1995 and 2003 reissues. He also contributes to the demos of what became one of the group's signature songs, " Won't Get Fooled Again" .
West also played guitar for the track "Bo Diddley Jam" on
Bo Diddley's 1976 "20th Anniversary of Rock 'n' Roll" all-star album.
West contributed the music and co-wrote the lyrics to the song "Immortal" on Clutch's 2001 album
Pure Rock Fury, which was a reworked cover of the song "Baby I'm Down" on Leslie West's first album.
In 2005 he contributed to
Ozzy Osbourne's "Under Cover" album, performing guitar on a remake of "Mississippi Queen"
In addition to fronting Mountain, West continues to record and perform on his own. His latest solo album, entitled "Blue Me", was released in 2006 on the
Blues Bureau Internationallabel. In 2007 Mountain released "Masters of War" on Big Rack Records, an album featuring 12 Bob Dylancovers that sees Ozzy Osbourne providing guest vocals on a rendition of the title track.
West was inducted into the
Long Island Music Hall of Fameon October 15th, 2006. [ [http://www.limusichalloffame.org Home of the L.I. Music Hall of Fame ] ]
West is renowned for helping popularize use of the
Gibson Les Paul Jr.guitar, along with the use of Sunn Amplifiers, to create a tone which became his trademark sound. The Junior was originally designed and sold as a beginner's instrument, but West was one of the first professionals to utilize the model on recordings and in concert performances. There were at least two of them in his collection, one "TV Yellow" and the other a sunburst. He used these guitars straight into Sunns from 1969 to 1975. In addition to the two Les Paul Jrs, he used a modified Gibson Flying V(with the neck pickup removed and a P90 fitted at the bridge position) circa 1971-1972, and a clear Dan Armstrong Ampeg lucitefor slide guitar. Currently, he favours guitars equipped with dual humbuckers, plugged into Marshall amps. From 1977 to 1982, he used a signature [http://www.rivercityamps.com/electra/west_1.jpgon-board effects MPC model guitar] , created by the Japanese company Electra. Another signature guitar model is manufactured by Ed Roman Guitars, entitled the "Leslie West Rocket". He currently also has a signature model from Dean Guitars, a USA Soltero Leslie West Signature fitted with a custom-designed DiMarzio pickup known as the Megadrive.
In 2005, West received a sponsorship with
Carlsbroamplifiers, and could frequently be seen playing through "Carlsbro 50 Top" valve heads. His studio amplifier is a Marshall JMP. For live performances he utilized Marshall JCM 900s. He is well-regarded for his use of octaver, chorus and delay effects. West is currently (2008) sponsored by Budda Amplifiers and plays them on tour. [ [http://www.mountainrockband.com/news.php?id=35 Leslie West uses Budda Amplifiers] ]
West now resides in
Englewood, New Jersey, the town put on the map by Wilson Pickettback in 1991 when he was arrested for allegedly yelling death threats while driving a car over the mayor's front lawn in Englewood, New Jersey.
"For his work with Mountain and
West, Bruce and Laing, see their pages."
*1975 "The Great Fatsby"
*1976 "The Leslie West Band"
*1989 "Night of the Guitar- Live!"
*1994 "Dodgin' the Dirt"
*1999 "As Phat as it Gets"
*2003 "Blues to Die For"
*2005 "Got Blooze"
*2006 "Blue Me"
A compilation of singles done in the 1960s by
The Vagrantswas released as "The Great Lost Album" in 1986.
* [http://www.mountainrockband.com/ Mountain Official site]
* [http://www.guitarjamdaily.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=604&Itemid=46 Leslie West Video Performance on Guitar Jam Daily]
* [http://www.guitarjamdaily.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=821&Itemid=47 Audio Interview with Leslie West on Guitar Jam Daily]
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