Leslie West passed away on December 23, 2020. Provogue Records / Mascot Label Group pays tribute to him with “Legacy: A Tribute To Leslie West”, where friends and several musicians influenced by him participate in this special release. It will be available as a box in a limited edition both as a CD and LP, digitally and an exclusive LP edition in a limited edition only available via the web shop.
When Leslie West passed away in December 2020, he left behind a large number of fantastic recordings that few other rock guitarists have. But Leslie West was so much more than his songs, his brilliant, distinctive and hugely upsetting sounds that made arenas and stadiums tremble around the world. But perhaps even more than his hypnotic tone, he had a touch like no other. Burning, sweeping and sensual melodies ran through his fingers and with a slight twitch of his wrist he sounded like a bluesman from the delta picking up a violin. This and much more made West one of the most significant rock guitarists of our time who influenced lots of his colleagues.
“Leslie was completely unique,” says his widow Jenni West. “As soon as you heard him play, you knew it was him. He loved to play the guitar and write songs. His life’s work was to make people feel good, that was his passion. He was humble in front of his fans but was also adored by other musicians. From country stars, rap artists and metal musicians, they all loved Leslie. He himself was surprised by the attention but at the same time very happy about how much he inspired other musicians. “
His manager for many years, Bob Ringe, agrees and says, “I have worked with some of our greatest guitarists but no one could compare with Leslie. He was so unique and special, his sound, his style, his strength and warmth. Every guitarist I have talked to has been influenced by him in some way. He was truly unique. ”
An impressive line-up of West’s fans (who also happen to be his friends) has gathered to pay tribute to the groundbreaking musician on “Legacy: A Tribute to Leslie West”. Executive producers are Jenni West, Bob Ringe and John Lappen and the album includes heartfelt contributions from Slash, Zakk Wylde, Dee Snider, Bachman & Bachman, Martin Barre, Joe Lynn Turner, Charlie Starr, Elliot Easton, Robbie Krieger, Mike Portnoy, Eddie Ojeda, George Lynch, Marty Friedman, Steve Morse and Yngwie Malmsteen and more.
From the beginning, the album was intended as a retrospective tribute to West’s music where the guitarist himself would play some of his most beloved songs with prominent guests as well as some newly written works. Two weeks before you were to start recording, the guitarist passed away. Once Jenni West, Ringe and Lappen changed their focus to a tribute album, they discovered that they went much easier than they thought: “We actually did not need to contact very many people,” says Jenni. “They contacted us. What’s really amazing is that if Leslie whispered to me which ones he wanted on the record, these are the ones he would have asked for. ”
West Rhythm Section for many years, bassist Rev Jones and drummer Bobby Rondinelli, added some brilliant background tracks for the guest artists to add to. One of two exceptions is the dramatic version of Theme for an Imaginary Western (which West recorded with Mountain for their debut album Climbing! 1970) where drummer Mike Portnoy pushes like no other along with legendary bassist from Quiet Riot / Ozzy Osbourne’s band Rudy Sarzo . Two of the members of Twisted Sister, singer Dee Snider and guitarist Eddie Ojeda, both add something really unique and impressive to this majestic track.
01. Blood Of The Sun (feat. Zakk Wylde)
02. Nantucket Sleighride (To Owen Coffin) (feat. Joe Lynn Turner & Marty Friedman)
03. Theme For An Imaginary Western (feat. Dee Snider, Eddie Ojeda, Rudy Sarzo, Mike Portnoy)
04. For Yasgur’s Farm (feat. Joe Lynn Turner & Martin Barre)
05. Why Dontcha (feat. Steve Morse & Ronnie Romero)
06. Sittin’ On A Rainbow (feat. Elliot Easton & Ronnie Romero)
07. Never In My Life (feat. Dee Snider & George Lynch)
08. The Doctor (feat. Robby Krieger & Ronnie Romero)
09. Silver Paper (feat. Charlie Starr)
10. Money (Whatcha Gonna Do)/By The River medley (feat. Bachman & Bachman)
11. Long Red (feat. Yngwie Malmsteen & Teddy Rondinelli)
12. Mississippi Queen (feat. Slash & Marc LaBelle)
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Leslie was my hero, my friend and a fantastic person and guitar god, ”says Snider. “I’ve always wanted to sing this song. It contains my favorite solo with Leslie. It speaks to me in so many ways. I am honored to have had the opportunity to do it on this record. ”
But undoubtedly, Mississippi is Queen West’s most famous song and who better to tackle it than the giant from Guns N ‘Roses, guitarist Slash? The one who takes the honor of accompanying the member of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame on a rough and riff version is the singer Marc LeBelle who is currently riding the wave of success with the band Dirty Honey.
The former singer in Deep Purple and Rainbow, Joe Lynn Turner, gives a wink to West but also to Mountain’s other singer Felix Pappalardi on two songs. One is an outstanding version of Nantucket Sleighride, the bluesy, prog track from Mountain’s second album from 1971 where he gets help from guitar hero Marty Friedman. The other is a spooky version of the psychedelic rocker For Yasgur’s Farm (from Climbing!) Where he is joined by guitarist Martin Barre who was a member of Jethro Tull for many years. “It was a great honor to be a part of this tribute to Leslie,” says Turner, “especially to sing Yasgur’s Farm. I will never forget when I saw Mountain on Fillmore East. Felix sang the verse as they reached the b-section and a strong white spot beamed over Leslie’s deer leather. I still get chills today. ”
In 1969, West had left his band the Vagrants and embarked on what was intended to be a solo career, but his record Mountain instead became the unofficial beginning of the power trio of the same name. From that record, Zakk Wylde chose the catchy Blood of the Sun and like West himself, he has the ability to push the gas to the bottom both as a guitarist and singer.
In recent years, West became friends with Blackberry Smokes singer and guitarist Charlie Starr. Starr admired West and chose the soulful gem Silver Paper (from Climbing!) As his way of remembering his deceased comrade. He responds to the muscular accompaniment from Rev Jones and Bobby Rondinelli and the finesse from keyboardist Mike DiMeo with a laser beam that illuminates the song’s joyful, spiritual core and never lets go. “I love Silver Paper and it has one of the coolest guitar riffs ever,” says Starr. “Leslie played exactly what the song required. His timing was perfect and he played so cruel and magnificent. It’s something that inspires one. I’m incredibly proud to be on this album. God be with Leslie West. ”
Doors legend Robbie Krieger also knew Leslie West. They had both performed at the same concerts and festivals for many years. “The best thing about Leslie was how he played the blues, it was very natural and relaxed,” he says. “He and Clapton were the best at that time. They simply had a feeling for the blues. Maybe it was where they had been in previous lives, blues players. Krieger chose the revealing The Doctor from the 1972 album Why Dontcha with West’s trio and supergroup West, Bruce and Laing (with Creams Jack Bruce and Mountains Corky Laing) and he is really passionate about the song’s dizzying leitmotif. Singer Ronnie Romero (veteran of Lords of Black, Rainbow and the Michael Schenker Group) lives up to the challenge with empathy and elegance.
The end of the album contains a few more gold nuggets, the acclaimed duo with father and son Bachman and Bachman who in a seemingly simple way join two songs from 1976’s The Leslie West Band, Money and By the River, into an infectious and scathing flamethrower. The guitar hero from the Cars, Elliott Easton, is paired with singer Ronnie Romero on a sparkling and playful version of Sittin ‘on a Rainbow (from Climbing!). Easton’s playing flows forward and is perfect for West’s country-like solo. Another visit to Climbing! is made with Never in My Life with torn vocals by Dee Snider and a guitar playing that tears down the wallpaper by Dokken’s former guitarist George Lynch. Dixie Dregs and Deep Purple guitarist Steve Morse (along with Ronnie Romero) ventures out into the wilderness and lights up the solos that are at the same time freaked out and sparkling on the title track from Why Dontcha.
“Leslie could take a combination of two, three simple tones and phrase them with a cruel feeling and devotion,” says Morse, who was on the same stage as West on several occasions. “You could do nothing but like him. He knew exactly how to do it. Just how he phrases his solos and the devotion and the tone. It was absolutely huge to be able to stand next to him and experience it
Long Red is one of the most fascinating songs West made. It first appeared on the guitarist’s solo album from 1969 but was also one of the highlights on Mountain’s album Live: The Road Goes Ever On. Over the years, this psychedelic funky song has been given a status like no other thanks to an incredible amount of hip hop artists (from Kendrick Lamar to Kanye West to Ice-T) sampled it on several megahits. Even Mariah Carey used it on her song Money from 2014. Here, guitar icon Yngwie Malmsteen takes aim at the song’s bluesier side and injects it with her very own inimitable style and the result is awesome. When singing, Teddy Rondinelli takes in from the toes in a way that completely breaks. This song will only be available as a bonus track on the Japanese release.
Jenni West sums up the record like this, “No one in the whole world has made me feel as loved as Leslie and I feel honored to be able to give him this gift.” She laughs, “He often said, ‘If it’s not up there, it’s not right.’ And I think the whole record makes it jerk down there! When you listen to it, you can even imagine that it is Leslie who plays and it is fantastic. He seriously thought it was a tribute when others imitated his style. Even when some of the musicians do their own thing, they do it in an honest and respectful way. Leslie would have appreciated that. “