Woodstock Mountain Steve Knight

Woodstock Mountain Steve Knight

Woodstock Mountain Steve Knight

12 May 1935 – 19 January 2013
Woodstock Mountain Steve Knight
(photo from Woodstock Times)
Woodstock Mountain Steve Knight

Woodstock from the start

Steve Knight lived a lot of Woodstock. He spent most of his early life living in the Ulster County, NY town with his parents. Then family moved to New York City when he was 15 because his father got a teaching position in Columbia University.

Columbia and the Village

Knight attended Columbia University. And we can add his name to the long list of young people in the early 1960s who were attracted by New York’s burgeoning music scene. According to Wikipedia, “Knight recorded with or was a member of various bands including the Feenjon Group, the Peacemakers, Devil’s Anvil and Wings” (not Paul McCartney’s group).


He played in several bands and along the way met producer Felix Pappalardi who was forming the band Mountain fronted by Leslie West.

With Mountain, Steve played keyboards. And from growing up in the town of Woodstock, Steve obliquely returned by playing with Mountain at the Woodstock Music and Art Fair.

Though successful, the band quit (for the first time) in 1972 and Knight left the band permanently.  Though he never left music, it became secondary to his life.

Back to Woodstock

Knight moved back to Woodstock, NY where in 1999 he won election to the Town Board. Voters re-elected him in 2003. According to the Woodstock Times obituary, “His tenure was characterized by temperance and evenhanded attempts to reconcile the passionate rifts that characterize local politics.

The article continued, “For a 2002 community play to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the founding of the Byrdcliffe Arts and Crafts community Steve wrote “Valley Finale,” which went on to become the Town’s official song. The words…explain why so many Woodstockers loved Steve as much as he loved them.”

Steve Knight died 19 January 2013 in New York of complications from Parkinson’s disease at the age of 77. [NYT obituary]

Woodstock Mountain Steve Knight

7 thoughts on “Woodstock Mountain Steve Knight”

  1. Sean Thomas via Facebook comment: I think its a shame the way that Leslie talks about Steve.
    Leslie has said on many occasions that Mountain was a power TRIO indicating that Steve really served no purpose.
    I disagree. His keyboard work was not upfront in the group sound like John Lord and he did get solos but I still feel he was an integral part of their sound. Kind of like Chick Churchill with TYA.
    Steve added a bit of seasoning to the blend that made them stand out among other hard rock trios of the day
    Particularly on Nantiket Sleighride.

  2. Mountain had four very fine musicians. I don’t think Leslie West had an appreciation for the great support that Steve Knight provided for Leslie’s playing. After Steve Knight left, the band was not the same… not nearly as interesting. One might say that Steve Knight didn’t add much to that band, but go ahead and try to remix any of the 3 first Mountain albums without Steve Knight’s parts and you’ll hear much of the soul of the band missing. How Leslie West (who’s playing I really like) didn’t understand or hear the value of Steve Knight is beyond me. Hearing Leslie without Steve is not nearly as interesting.

  3. Leslie never wanted Steve in the band, Felix did, a way to avoid comparisons to Cream, who Felix had produced. Felix was right, Steve’s keyboards really helped create the Mountain sound, a counterpoint to Leslie’s bombast perhaps. It made their music more lyrical and dreamlike and, shall I say, less sixties sounding, which is what Felix was looking for. They were never as good after they broke up. And save for Corky, they’re all gone.

  4. I found Steve Knight’s keyboards and Pappalardi’s bass playing incredibly interesting to listen to. In the studio recordings, they gave the band its uniqueness. Although live the keyboards seemed to get lost in the thunder.

  5. I never liked Leslie West bad mouthing Steve Knight, Listen to albums like Nantucket Sleighride or Road Goes Ever On, His keyboard work really shines. I got to interview him several times. He was doing session work with Felix before Mountain fame.
    Like Felix, he was an educated musician, and played many
    instruments. He was also Felix pall bearer. (Sad).
    In concert I saw Felix go to keys while Steve took his bass for the song – “Theme for Imaginary Western” (pretty cool !!)

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