Ace Frehley (KISS) has paid tribute to MOUNTAIN's Leslie West, who died Wednesday (December 23) at the age of 75. The iconic guitarist, vocalist, songwriter and storyteller suffered cardiac arrest at his home near Daytona, Florida on Monday (December 21) and was rushed to a hospital, where he never regained consciousness.
Earlier today, Ace took to his social media to write: "I lost a dear friend yesterday, he was Leslie West the lead guitarist from MOUNTAIN...Probably best known for their hit 'Mississippi Queen'...He was an amazing guitarist, and I was awaiting a call from him, since I did a remake of one of his songs on 'Origins Vol. 2'...but now I'll never get a chance to hear what he thought of the cover...It's so sad, we've lost so many great guitar players this year... My prayers are with his family & friends during this holiday season! He was one of the great guitarists and a good friend over the years!!! He will be missed in the Rock & Roll Community! I'm sure he's up in R&R Heaven w/all the other musicians we've lost!... R.I.P Mr. West!"
Weinstein was born in New York City, and first emerged in the scene as a member of THE VAGRANTS. A few years later, he and Felix Pappalardi formed MOUNTAIN, a band that was amongst the first to pioneer the genre later to become known as heavy metal. Hits that include "Mississippi Queen", "Theme From An Imaginary Western" and others established an indelible voice and guitar tone that remains legendary to this day. In 1969, West brought his presence to the stage at Woodstock.
As the decade turned, he formed WEST, BRUCE AND LAING with his bandmate from MOUNTAIN drummer Corky Laing and CREAM's Jack Bruce. In, 1971, West contributed to THE WHO's "Who's Next" sessions in the city, performances which can be heard on the 1995 and 2003 reissues of that cornerstone album.
Alongside his significant contribution to pop culture as the face of MOUNTAIN, West appeared in films that include "Family Honor" (1973) and "The Money Pit" (1986). He was a regular guest on "The Howard Stern Show", and over the course of decades remained a periodic visitor alongside enjoying a decades-long friendship with the talk show host.
West was inducted in to the Long Island Music Hall Of Fame in 2006, and appeared on dozens of other recordings from a vast universe of artists. Samples of his performances lived a secondary life on the masters of a who's who of hip-hop and rap stars.
The guitarist is renowned for helping popularize the Gibson Les Paul Jr. model with P-90 pick-ups to create a tone that is undisputedly his own. More recently, he enjoyed a long relationship with Dean Guitars, releasing several signature models.
West is survived by his wife Jenni — whom he married on stage after MOUNTAIN's performance at the Woodstock 40th-anniversary concert in Bethel, New York on August 15, 2009 — brother Larry and nephew Max.