About Leslie West
Leslie West’s 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 the New York metropolitan area itself .
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 on their album Disraeli Gears).
In 1969, West and Pappalardi would form the pioneering hard rock act Mountain, which was also the title of West’s debut solo album.
Rolling Stone identified the band as a ‘louder version of Cream’. The band’s original incarnation saw West and Pappalardi sharing vocal duties and playing guitar and bass, respectively.
New drummer Corky Laing joined the band shortly after Woodstock. 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.
Johnny Ramone, a fan of West, has called him, “one of the top five guitar players of his era”.
West continues to make occasional appearances on radio, notably on Howard Stern’s radio show.
Unusual suspects his latest album released in 2011 to critical acclaim has prompted him to continue touring.