Author Topic: Hackensack's Leslie West: tough Mountain to climb  (Read 4887 times)

Offline BLeafe

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Hackensack's Leslie West: tough Mountain to climb
« on: October 30, 2013, 10:00:12 AM »
http://www.northjersey.com/arts_entertainment/music/229818171_Mountain_s_Leslie_West_releases_new_solo_album.html?page=all


Hackensack's Leslie West's long, tough climb

Wednesday October 30, 2013, 8:11 AM
BY  JIM BECKERMAN
STAFF WRITER
The Record


WHO: Leslie West.

WHEN: 8 p.m. Nov. 13.

WHERE: Iridium, 1650 Broadway, Manhattan.

HOW MUCH: $35.


It takes a million years to form a mountain. Or maybe one, if it's the pivotal year 1969, and the Mountain in question is the pivotal band that, 44 years ago, helped launch the rock subspecies known as heavy metal.

"To me, 1969 was the beginning of all this," says Mountain's ("Mississippi Queen," "Nantucket Sleighride") ace guitar-slinger, Leslie West, who partly grew up in Hackensack.

Which may be why West's new album under his own name, "Still Climbing" (released Tuesday), features an Apollo rocket on the album cover a triple nod to the year of the moon landing, the year Mountain formed and the year of the now-disbanded band's historic appearance at Woodstock.

The new album, which features guest appearances by blues guitarists Johnny Winter and Jonny Lang, Twisted Sister's Dee Snider and others, looks back in other ways. The title "Still Climbing" deliberately echoes Mountain's famous first album, "Climbing!" (1970).

"I definitely want to show a little bit of where I've been, and where I'm going," West says. "And as for [the title] 'Still Climbing' a lot of people get knocked down in life. It's how you choose to get up."

He speaks from experience. For West, the last two years have been a particularly rough climb.

West lost a leg in June 2011 under awful circumstances that are almost like a real-life version of the old Ronald Reagan movie "King's Row." Only instead of waking up with a start and yelling, "Where's the rest of me?" he came out of a four-day coma just long enough to give his groggy permission for something he barely understood.

"I was so high on whatever they were giving me," he recalls. "I heard, 'They're gonna have to cut off your leg, or you're gonna die,' and I [mumbled] 'You have to do whatever you have to do.' I was so out of it. When I woke up, it was like, 'Aw, Jesus.' "

It was in Mississippi ironically, given his band's most famous song that the diabetes he'd struggled with for years took this terrible turn.

A further irony: He was about to perform in what was supposed to be Mountain's final show, in Biloxi. He went to bed with his right foot in excruciating pain, and woke up unable to feel a pulse there. "The head of security for the hotel came up, he was also an EMT," West recalls. "He said, 'I have to take you to the hospital right away.' "

"Still Climbing" is the second album he's released in the short time since the amputation below the knee, and his voice and guitar work are as forceful as ever which will suggest his determination in overcoming obstacles. It isn't easy. "I really haven't gotten used to the prosthetic," he says. "My balance is so off, especially holding a guitar."


Always determined

That determination goes back to his teen years, spent partly in Hackensack. As a 10th grader, West given name Leslie Weinstein was intent on learning electric guitar. "I started playing electric guitar on the third floor of the house on Summit Avenue," he recalls.

He was equally single-minded about his goals during a brief stint at Hackensack High School. "I remember playing the guitar in a talent show in Hackensack High School," he says. "I wanted to play guitar, and they didn't have guitar classes in school. They wanted me to play a parade drum, a marching drum. I told [the teacher] to stick it up his [expletive], because that had nothing to do with a guitar."

Which is why, some years later in 1970, it was drummer Laurence "Corky" Laing not West who led off Mountain's signature song "Mississippi Queen" with perhaps rock's most celebrated cowbell (though Christopher Walken's famous "More cowbell!" routine on "Saturday Night Live" was in fact a dig at Blue Oyster Cult, West points out).

"The only reason that song is on the album, with the cowbell, is because [bassist] Felix Pappalardi told Corky to count out the song in the studio," West says. "He used the cowbell to count it off, and it stayed on there."

Ever since that first track on that first album, Mountain has been one of rock's most influential "power trios." Fans have included everyone from Howard Stern to Jay-Z and Kanye West (just two of a number of hip-hoppers who have sampled the band).

Now that West is on his own, he's keeping his chops and his good humor up. But for Mountain's main man, it's an uphill struggle.

"I remember Howard Stern calling me up and asking me, 'Listen, where's the leg?' " West recalls. " 'We could make a lot of money with that leg on eBay. Do you know where your leg is?' I said, 'No, I think it's in the Mississippi River. Who knows?' "


Email: beckerman@northjersey.com




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Offline Top of the Hill

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Re: Hackensack's Leslie West: tough Mountain to climb
« Reply #1 on: October 30, 2013, 06:40:12 PM »
My first concert was seeing Leslie West. Around 1975 at the Capitol in Passaic. I'm pretty sure it was Mountain and not the Leslie West Band. I recall Queen opening for them. Queen blew everybody away. A lot of brain cells lost over the years, probably most of them that night.

Offline BLeafe

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Re: Hackensack's Leslie West: tough Mountain to climb
« Reply #2 on: October 30, 2013, 08:08:13 PM »
I saw Queen open for Mott the Hoople at the Uris Theater on Broadway in 1974.

Queen opening at the Capitol doesn't ring a bell, so I found an online list of Capitol shows. There's no guarantee that it's 100% accurate: http://www.irvingtonremembered.org/html/our_bands.html

Mountain headlined there two nights at the very end of 1974, so maybe one of those was your show. There's a very well-known recording from the December 28th show available online. Here's a taste:



Queen headlined at the Capitol in 1975 with Argent and Kansas opening. The Leslie West Band played there at the end of 1975, opening for Lynyrd Skynyrd.

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Offline Editor

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Re: Hackensack's Leslie West: tough Mountain to climb
« Reply #3 on: December 24, 2020, 11:22:07 AM »
Rolling Stone: Leslie West, Mountain Guitarist Who Belted Mississippi Queen, Dead at 75.
https://www.rollingstone.com/music/music-news/leslie-west-dead-1106777/

Offline BLeafe

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Hackensack's Leslie West: Dead at 75
« Reply #4 on: December 28, 2020, 01:20:54 PM »
I'm a little slow getting to this...........blame the holidays............yeah - that's it.

Another favorite guitarist gone. What the less-than-thorough Rolling Stone article failed to mention was that he was born and raised in Hackensack as Leslie Weinstein and attended Hackensack High School.

As you may know, I usually post a photo of the recently-deceased artist that I took during my career. Usually, it's been published somewhere, but not this time. I have never printed or scanned this slide until today, so no one's ever seen it before. It's a special shot, unlike any photo I've taken on any other night.

It was taken on September 11 (!), 1981 at Pier 84 on the Hudson River next to the Intrepid aircraft carrier (I shot a LOT of shows there).

It was billed as Leslie West & Corky Laing opening up for the Ian Hunter Band. Since I did a lot of work with Ian's management, they gave me some unusual access which I also used during Leslie's set. I was onstage toward the back of the stage and standing high up (on what, I don't recall). So I'm facing the back of the band, the audience, the Hudson River, New Jersey and a setting sun.

But I can't see the band directly because Ian's equipment is piled high behind them. However - and this is the strange part - there's a huge mirror high above the band. I have no idea what purpose it served. All I know is that I can now see Leslie, reversed and looking like a left-handed guitarist in that mirror. The band would normally be at the bottom of this picture, but - who cares?

CLICK!

I had NEVER taken a picture like this before. I had never seen (or imagined) a setup like this before. And I've never had occasion to publish  - or even SHOW it to anyone in almost 40 years, but now seems as good a time as any. I just hope there are a couple of Leslie West fans reading this who might appreciate it.

There's only one thing I question about this shot: in the upper right, is that a clear blue sky to the right of the mirror? If so, why does the sky look pinkishly cloudy under the mirror?

R.I.P., Mr. Weinstein.

« Last Edit: December 28, 2020, 01:24:52 PM by BLeafe »
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Offline BLeafe

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Re: Hackensack's Leslie West: tough Mountain to climb
« Reply #5 on: December 28, 2020, 01:52:05 PM »
I just noticed something about the monitors in front of Leslie: they seemed to have some weird writing on them. When I blew them up, it still just looked weird.

DUH! It's a reversed mirror image, so I flipped them. They're Ian's.


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Offline johnny g

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Re: Hackensack's Leslie West: tough Mountain to climb
« Reply #6 on: December 28, 2020, 03:57:38 PM »
The Les Paul Jr I have is an homage to him...back in the days when he would buy them from pawn shops for next to nothing.