Michael Schenker has paid tribute to MOUNTAIN's Leslie West, who died December 23 at the age of 75. The iconic guitarist, vocalist, songwriter and storyteller suffered cardiac arrest at his home near Daytona, Florida on December 21 and was rushed to a hospital, where he never regained consciousness.
Earlier today, Michael took to his social media to write: "My dear Lesley West
"You were my hero. What you did with your lead guitar playing was out of this world and you were the kindest man I have known. Such a lovely character with so much love.
"I am so sad that you are gone but I know that you are in a better place now. Enjoy heaven and keep me with you in spirit. I am looking forward to meet you again when my time comes. We will make heavenly music together. See you then.
"I will never forget you my hero. I am your little brother. Thank you for what you have done for me. Rest in peace my dearest friend.
"All my love to you and all my condolences to your loved ones. From the depth of my heart. I will always love you."
Weinstein was born in New York City, and first emerged in the scene as a member of THE VAGRANTS. A few years later, he and Felix Pappalardi formed MOUNTAIN, a band that was amongst the first to pioneer the genre later to become known as heavy metal. Hits that include "Mississippi Queen", "Theme From An Imaginary Western" and others established an indelible voice and guitar tone that remains legendary to this day. In 1969, West brought his presence to the stage at Woodstock.
As the decade turned, he formed WEST, BRUCE AND LAING with his bandmate from MOUNTAIN drummer Corky Laing and CREAM's Jack Bruce. In, 1971, West contributed to THE WHO's "Who's Next" sessions in the city, performances which can be heard on the 1995 and 2003 reissues of that cornerstone album.
Alongside his significant contribution to pop culture as the face of MOUNTAIN, West appeared in films that include "Family Honor" (1973) and "The Money Pit" (1986). He was a regular guest on "The Howard Stern Show", and over the course of decades remained a periodic visitor alongside enjoying a decades-long friendship with the talk show host.
West was inducted in to the Long Island Music Hall Of Fame in 2006, and appeared on dozens of other recordings from a vast universe of artists. Samples of his performances lived a secondary life on the masters of a who's who of hip-hop and rap stars.
The guitarist is renowned for helping popularize the Gibson Les Paul Jr. model with P-90 pick-ups to create a tone that is undisputedly his own. More recently, he enjoyed a long relationship with Dean Guitars, releasing several signature models.
West is survived by his wife Jenni — whom he married on stage after MOUNTAIN's performance at the Woodstock 40th-anniversary concert in Bethel, New York on August 15, 2009 — brother Larry and nephew Max.