Leslie West (born Leslie Weinstein on October 22, 1945) is a Jewish American rock guitarist, singer and songwriter.


West was born in New York City, and grew up on Long Island, in East Meadow, Forest Hills and Lawrence.[1] 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 Rascals that was one of the few teenage garage rock acts to come out of Manhattan itself (as opposed to the Bohemian Greenwich Village scene of artists, poets and affiliates of the Beat Generation, which produced bands like The Fugs and 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 rock act Mountain, also the title of West's debut solo 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. Rolling Stone identified the band as a 'louder version of Cream'. [2]

The band's original incarnation saw West and Pappalardi sharing vocal duties and playing guitar and bass, respectively, and Corky Laing on drums with keyboardist Steve Knight. They had success with "Mississippi Queen", which reached #21 on the Billboard charts and #4 in Canada. It was followed by the Jack Bruce-penned "Theme For an Imaginary Western". Mountain is one of the bands considered to be forerunners of heavy metal music.[3] After the breakup of Mountain, West and Laing would produce two studio albums and a live release with Cream bassist Jack Bruce under 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 Who during the March 1971 Who's Next New York sessions on a cover of Marvin Gaye's "Baby Don't You Do It" as well as an electric version of "Love Ain't For Keepin'". Though the tracks were not originally included on the album, they appear on the 1995 and 2003 reissues as bonus tracks. LAFK is only on the 2003 reissue and the 1998 reissue of Odds and Sods. He also contributes to the demo of what became one of the group's signature songs, "Won't Get Fooled Again", which also has been included on the reissues.

West also played guitar for the track "Bo Diddley Jam" on Bo Diddley's 1976 20th Anniversary of Rock 'n' Roll all-star album.

Leslie West and Joe Bonamassa recorded Warren Haynes' "If Heartaches Were Nickels" together. West released it on Guitarded (2005), and Bonamassa on A New Day Yesterday (2000).

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 International label. In 2007 Mountain released Masters of War on Big Rack Records, an album featuring twelve Bob Dylan covers that sees Ozzy Osbourne providing guest vocals on a rendition of the title track.

West was inducted into the Long Island Music Hall of Fame on October 15, 2006. [4].

West married his fiancée Jenni Maurer on stage after Mountain's performance at the Woodstock 40th anniversary concert in Bethel, New York. West now lives in New Jersey.[5].

Johnny Ramone, a fan of West, has called him, "one of the top five guitar players of his era"[6].

In September 2009, Leslie West: The Sound & The Story was released; a guitar instructional DVD from Fret12. The DVD includes the story and breakdown of Leslie's biggest hits, including "Mississippi Queen". Guest appearances from Zakk Wylde, Joe Satriani, Mark Tremonti, and Corky Laing are also included[7].

West continues to make occasion appearances on radio, notably on shock jock Howard Stern's radio show.[8]


For his work with Mountain and West, Bruce and Laing, see their pages on Wikipedia.

  • 1969 Mountain
  • 1975 The Great Fatsby
  • 1976 The Leslie West Band
  • 1988 Theme
  • 1989 Alligator
  • 1989 Night of the Guitar- Live!
  • 1993 Live
  • 1994 Dodgin' the Dirt
  • 1999 As Phat as it Gets
  • 2003 Blues to Die For
  • 2005 Guitarded
  • 2005 Got Blooze
  • 2006 Blue Me

A compilation of singles done in the 1960s by The Vagrants was released as The Great Lost Album in 1986.


  1. Fischler, Marcelle S. "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..."
  2. Rolling Stone Encyclopedia of Rock and Roll, p674, Mountain, Rolling Stone Press, U.S., 2001.
  3. Ingham, Chris (2002). The Book of Metal. Thunder's Mouth Press. pp. 204. ISBN 978-1560254195. 
  4. Home of the L.I. Music Hall of Fame
  5. Leslie West to get married onstage at Woodstock Newsday July 16, 2009.
  8. Rolling Stone Encyclopedia of Rock and Roll, p674, Mountain, Rolling Stone Press, U.S., 2001.

External links

This page uses content from the English Wikipedia. The original article was at Leslie West. The list of authors can be seen in the page history.

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