Leslie West, the frontman for Mountain who created the hard-rocking, guitar-wailing hit, “Mississippi Queen,” died Wednesday. He was 75.
West’s death was confirmed by his brother, Larry West Weinstein, Rolling Stone reported. West suffered cardiac arrest at his home near Daytona Beach, Florida, on Monday and was rushed to a hospital, where he never regained consciousness, the magazine reported.
The original lineup for Mountain was together for a short time — from 1969 to 1972 — but the group’s heavy sound was cited as the key to the development of hard rock during the 1970s, Variety reported. The band’s music was often credited as a bridge between blues-rock and heavy metal.
“Mississippi Queen,” the band’s signature song, was released in 1970 on the group’s debut album, “Climbing!” The song peaked on the Billboard Hot 100 at No. 27 in 1970, but lives on today as younger generations test their guitar licks on games such as Guitar Hero III and Rock Band.
The song also has been featured on several soundtracks, and on television shows such as “The Americans” and “The Simpsons.”
In an interview with Guitar Player earlier this year, West said the song “has just everything you need to make it a winner. You’ve got the cowbell, the riff is pretty damn good, and it sounds incredible. It feels like it wants to jump out of your car radio. To me, it sounds like a big, thick milkshake. It’s rich and chocolatey. Who doesn’t love that?”
Born Leslie Weinstein on October 22, 1945, West grew up in the New York City area and was a founding member of the Vagrants, a blue-eyed soul garage band of the mid-1960s, Rolling Stone reported.
Mountain played during the second day of the Woodstock Festival in 1969, appearing between Canned Heat and the Grateful Dead, the magazine reported.
“I think I had the most amplifiers of anybody there,” West told Rolling Stone in a 1989 interview. “It was paralyzing because that stage, that setting, was some kind of natural amphitheater. The sound was so loud and shocking that I got scared. But once I started playing, I just kept going because I was afraid to stop.”
“Long Red,” a psychedelic blues song from 1970, remains one of West’s lasting legacies. The song has been sampled by many rap acts, including De La Soul, the Game, ASAP Rocky, Kanye West in “The Glory” and Jay-Z in “99 Problems.”