Leslie West

Leslie West

Happy birthday

Leslie West

born October 22, 1945

Mountain, “Theme for an Imaginary Western”

Forest Hills High School

What do the four original members of the Ramones (Johnny, Dee Dee, Tommy and Joey), Burt Bacharach, Dick Stockton, Paul Simon, Art Garfunkel, Bob Keeshan, aka Captain Kangaroo, Jerry Springer and Peter Parker all have in common with Leslie West?

Except Peter Parker, aka Spiderman, they all actually attended Forest Hills High School in Queens, NYC. 

Leslie Weinstein

Leslie Weinstein became Leslie West after his parents divorced, but talent and luck, always a bit of luck, made Leslie West a household name among rock fans in the late 60s.
While Greenwich Village was pumping out folk musician after folk musician into the 1960's cultural revolution, West though nearby geographically was light years artistically on "distant" Long Island, NY.

Leslie West was in the Vagrants and the band had minor success. Felix Pappalardi produced some of their recordings. Pappalardi produced and played on West's first album, called Mountain (1969). It was from that album's name that, in 1969, they formed Mountain. 

Pappalardi had also produced Cream and some compared Mountain's sound to theirs.  Steve Knight (keyboards) and N.D. Smart (drums) were the other two original members. 

Woodstock Music and Art Fair

The band appeared at Woodstock on Saturday night. Their well-received set was neither on the movie soundtrack nor the first movie, but the strength of their sound made West and the band favorites especially among the FM crowd.

Following Woodstock, the band released it's first album,  Climbing! (February 1970). Nantucket Sleighride followed in January 1971, and Flowers of Evil in November 1971.

In 1972 Pappalardi left the band to do more productions and West, Jack Bruce and Corky Laing (had replaced ND Smart on drums) formed West, Bruce, and Lang.

Over the decades versions of Mountain have formed and re-formed, always with West at the center.  

Leslie West

Substance abuse and diabetes have plagued West, but have not kept him away from music very long. He lost the bottom half of his right leg to diabetes in 2011. He told Billboard afterwards, ""I cried a couple fuckin' times. I look down -- 'Where is it?!' You still feel the nerves and stuff like that. I had to make a decision -- lose my leg or lose my life. What are you gonna do?  But I'll tell you, it's a good thing it wasn't one of my arms. Then I'd be really fucked." [insert gallows humor comment here]

On August 15, 2009 he married Jenni Maurer on stage after Mountain's performance at the Woodstock 40th anniversary concert at Bethel Woods Center for the Arts, located on the site of the Woodstock Music and Art Fair. Note Mr Levon Helm on the far left!

Leslie West


In 2015, Rolling Stone magazine rated West as 65/100 among the greatest guitar players. The blurb said in part that, " On songs like the 1970 hit "Mississippi Queen," West played roughened blues lines with deceiving facility and an R&B flair, through a black forest of stressed-amp distortion. "


October 21 Peace Love Activism

October 21 Peace Love Activism

Black History

William Lloyd Garrison

October 21 Peace Love Activism, 

October 21, 1835: William Lloyd Garrison was a prominent white abolitionist and newspaper editor in the 19th century. Born in 1805 in Newburyport, Massachusetts, to English immigrants, Garrison co-founded his first newspaper at age 22 and began to focus on the issue of slavery. In 1829, Garrison became the co-editor of the Baltimore-based Genius of Universal Emancipation, through which he and his colleagues criticized proponents of slavery.

Unlike most American abolitionists at the time, Garrison demanded immediate emancipation of enslaved black people rather than gradual emancipation. In 1830, he founded The Liberator, which continued to publish criticisms of slavery. By that time, Garrison had become a vocal opponent of the American Colonization Society, which sought to reduce the number of free blacks by relocating them to Africa. In 1832, Garrison helped to organize the American Anti-Slavery Society and sought to keep the organization unaffiliated with any political party. He also advocated for women to be allowed equal participation in the organization, a radical stance nearly 90 years before women in America obtained the right to vote.

On October 21, 1835, Garrison attended a meeting held by the Boston Female Anti-Slavery Society to hear remarks from George Thompson, a British abolitionist and personal friend. Thompson had been warned that a pro-slavery mob planned to tar-and-feather him and declined to attend the meeting. The mob seized Garrison instead, dragged him through the streets by a rope around his waist, and threatened to lynch him until he was rescued by police. Garrison spent the night in a city jail and left Boston the next morning. He remained a staunch opponent of slavery and lived to see the institution’s demise 30 years later. (see May 1836)
Montgomery Bus Boycott
October 21, 1955:  in Montgomery, AL, Mary Louise Smith (age 18) was arrested for violating segregation laws in Montgomery, Ala. She, along with three other African-American women (Aurelia Browder, Susie McDonald and Claudette Colvin) refused to surrender their bus seats to whites (months before Rosa Parks does the same). They brought the famous Browder v. Gayle lawsuit that successfully resulted in the Alabama law being ruled unconstitutional. (BH, see Oct 22; Feminism & MBB, see Dec 1: Browder v Gayle, see June 5, 1956)

October 21 Music et al

October 21 Peace Love Activism, 

The Beatles’ Christmas Show
October 21, 1963: 100,000 tickets go on sale for The Beatles’ Christmas Show. Manager Brian Epstein, who himself had had theatrical aspirations, conceived a variety stage production featuring the group. (see Oct 31)
Jack Kerouac
October 21, 1969: On the Road (1957) author, Jack Kerouac, died. Created term “Beat” to describe the so-called Beat Generation as well as providing titles to two of the most famous writings of that era: Howl (1955), by Allen Ginsberg and Naked Lunch (1959), by William Burroughs. (NYT obit) (see April 5, 1997)
“To Sir With Love” 
October 21 – November 24, 1967: “To Sir With Love” by Lulu #1 on the Billboard Hot 100.

October 21 Peace Love Activism


October 21 - 22, 1967: in Washington, D.C. nearly 100,000 people gathered to protest the Vietnam War. More than 50,000 of the protesters marched to the Pentagon to ask for an end to the conflict. (Nov 7)


October 21, 1977: Judge Bernard Decker of the US District Court for the Northern District of Illinois issues a preliminary injunction prohibiting the Village of Skokie from enforcing three ordinances aimed at preventing Frank Collin and his Nationalist Socialist party sympathizers from marching in Skokie. (see January 27, 1978)


October 21, 2013: Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey announced that he would drop his legal challenge to same-sex marriage, hours after gay couples started exchanging vows in midnight ceremonies across the state. His decision effectively removed the last hurdle to making same-sex marriage legal in New Jersey. At 12:01 a.m., New Jersey joined 13 other states and the District of Columbia in allowing gay couples to marry. (see Nov 5) (NYT article)

October 21 Peace Love Activism, October 21 Peace Love Activism, October 21 Peace Love Activism, October 21 Peace Love Activism, October 21 Peace Love Activism, October 21 Peace Love Activism, October 21 Peace Love Activism, October 21 Peace Love Activism, 

Dead at Woodstock

Dead at Woodstock

The oft' told tale of the Dead's performance at Woodstock was that it was plagued with various difficulties and was generally lackluster. That it wasn't a typical '69 performance.  It was only about 70 minutes of music with a more than 10 minute technical break after only two songs totaling five minutes. Plus, there was, as Phil Lesh retold, walkie-talkie interference with their PA during some parts. 
Dead at Woodstock
Dead at Woodstock…Jerry and Bob

Dead at Woodstock

Dead at Woodstock
Dead at Woodstock
               Well, let's take a look at the set list: 
  • 1. Saint Stephen (2:04)
  • 2. Mama Tried (2:42)
  • 3. a High Time tease (30 seconds)
  • the 10 minute technical issues break
  • 4. Dark Star (19:10)
  • 5. High Time (6:20),
  • 6. Turn On Your Lovelight (38:42)
               How atypical was the Dead at Woodstock? The concert immediately before at Family Dog at the Great Highway in San Francisco on  August 3  was about 90 minutes. Their first concert afterward was on August 20 at the Aqua Theater in Seattle.  How long was it? About 90 minutes.
               If not for the technical issues, faced by most of the Woodstock performers, the Dead at Woodstock was not too different.
               Perhaps it'd be best to give the Dead at Woodstock an actual listen and decide for yourself. As for me, I enjoy it. Of course the spice of it being at Woodstock is an enticing enhancement, but even without that, it's still good. After all, there's only one Barton Hall and that was eight years in the future.
               I dare you to click and open  ↓ It's really a nice listen for any day and a slice of history. You'll hear the actual radio feedback the Phil Lesh talks about during a quieter part of their set.
Internet Archive of Dead's performance @ Woodstock


What's so funny about peace, love, art, and activism?