Heavy metal pioneer and Mountain frontman Leslie West died last Wednesday, December 23, in Palm Coast. He was 75.
Per Mercury News, his publicist Steve Karas confirmed the cause of death to be cardiac arrest. West had faced various health issues over the past few years, including diabetes, which led to his lower right leg being amputated in 2011.
“The iconic guitarist, vocalist, songwriter and storyteller has left a legacy that to this day is celebrated by peers and fans across The World,” read a statement by Karas on Facebook. “Guitarists across the globe together will unite in sadness as The World says goodbye to a true original.”
After beginning his career with soul group The Vagrants alongside his brother Larry, West kick-started his solo career with his 1969 debut album Mountain, produced by Felix Pappalardi. The duo would go on to form an eponymous band and perform at Woodstock in 1969 before achieving breakout success with their timeless single “Mississipi Queen.” Though Mountain soon disbanded in 1972, West would go on to pursue several other musical projects, including West, Bruce and Laing alongside Jack Bruce and Corky Laing; as well as various incarnations of Mountain with different lineups.
Fans and musicians alike from around the rock and metal world have come together to pay tribute to the late legend. Below, read posts from Sting, Tom Morello, Billy Joel and Black Sabbath’s Geezer Butler and Tony Iommi.
— Slash (@Slash) December 23, 2020
— Tom Morello (@tmorello) December 24, 2020
Paying respects to virtuoso guitarist, Leslie West, who passed away this week.
— Billy Joel pic.twitter.com/C0Bbqb7eWf
— Billy Joel (@billyjoel) December 24, 2020
Sad to hear of Leslie West’s passing. Such a lovely bloke. He was fantastic to us when Sabbath supported Mountain on our first US tour. He came to see us at Mohegan Sun, even though he was wheelchair bound. Mississippi Queen one of, if not the, greatest riff of all time. RIP pic.twitter.com/DZ3FLWeGpQ
— Geezer Butler (@geezerbutler) December 23, 2020
So sad to hear the news of Leslie West’s passing. He was a great guitar player and his band Mountain were one of the first band that Sabbath supported on our early tour of America. We struck up a great relationship on that tour – they were a really good band 1/2 pic.twitter.com/tmV937BM6e
— Tony Iommi (@tonyiommi) December 24, 2020
RIP, Leslie West. Listen to Mountain’s debut album Climbing! below: