After Mountain came tumbling down, West formed the short-lived power trio West Bruce & Laing (with Cream bassist Jack Bruce and Mountain drummer Corky Laing) before starting his solo career. Actually, before resuming his solo career — before starting Mountain with Felix Pappilardi, West's 1969 solo debut was titled Mountain, presumably a reference to his girth, a gag he continued with his sophomore album, 1975's The Great Fatsby.
West wound down his solo efforts in the late ’70s when labels seemed disinterested in genuine guitar heroes.
In the mid-’80s, Howard Stern was using his radio soapbox to lament West's absence and West called in to thank Stern, which began a long friendship and relaunched the guitarist's career. West’s 1988 album, Theme, was a direct result of his exposure on the Stern show.
West subsequently resurrected Mountain and maintained a constant solo presence, including last year's incendiary and excellent Usual Suspects. Although West shed much of his excess weight, diabetic issues cost him the lower half of his right leg last summer, but he was performing again mere weeks after the amputation. (In a call after the operation, Stern asked West if he could have the leg to incorporate into a custom guitar and West joked that he was going to demand a 50 percent discount from his chiropodist.)
Leg for leg, pound for pound, note for note, Leslie West is one of the greatest guitarists to ever play Woodstock, ruin a $1,000 Nudie shirt by laying in a pile of hamburgers for a Creem photo shoot and, well, play the shit out of a guitar.
LESLIE WEST performs Wednesday, Aug. 29 at Fraze Pavilion in Kettering with the Johnny Winter Band, Edgar Winter Group, Rick Derringer and Kim Simmonds. Buy tickets, check out performance times and get venue details here.