Leslie West Announces First Public Appearance Since Leg Amputation

07/08/2011
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Yesterday we told you that Leslie West's new album was coming out in the UK and was filled with big name special guest. Today we have the North American release and also news of his first public appearance since having his leg amputated last month. Here is the official word from his camp:

Leslie West's first public appearance will be with the Rock 'n' Roll Fantasy Camp in New York City the afternoon of August 13th, where he'll make a private appearance to jam with each camper band and offer critiques of their songs as previously scheduled. Plans for a full national tour will be revealed shortly.

Provogue Records has announced a September 20th release date for Leslie West's album Unusual Suspects. The anticipated recording features an assemblage of superstars in their own right that includes Slash, ZZ Top's Billy F. Gibbons, Black Label Society's Zakk Wylde, Steve Lukather, and Joe Bonamassa, alongside drummer Kenny Aronoff. West shared, "These guys don't show up to play on everybody's albums. They're all stars in their own right and fantastic players everyone with their own sound and style, and about as far from 'the usual suspects' as it gets."

All of these players have deep musical and personal connections to West. He and label-mate Lukather, who adds acoustic guitar to the piano-based boogie "One More Drink for the Road," have been friends for decades. As for Gibbons, he and West met during Z.Z. Top's first major tour, when Gibbons' band got its big break opening for Mountain. Slash of Velvet Revolver, Snakepit and Guns N' Roses fame has cited West as an influence on his own brawny playing. Ditto for Wylde, who affectionately refers to West as "Dad." And label-mate Bonamassa was so moved by West's earlier recording of Willie Dixon and Eddie Boyd's blues standard "Third Degree" from a West, Bruce and Lang album that he requested they cut it again for Unusual Suspects.

Historically, West is a guitar god. From the Sixties through today, he has been revered by artists and fans alike. He has been in command of one of the biggest, boldest electric guitar tones known to humankind from the 1969 Woodstock Festival that placed his band Mountain in to historical lore through his upcoming release Unusual Suspects. His voice is even more recognizable, and the powerful mix of honey and gravel that falls somewhere between Otis Redding and King Kong, never sounded better than it does on the upcoming Fabrizio Grossi produced album. West shares, "I'm happy because I've kept evolving. My singing has gotten better and, as a player, I'm more melodic and have a better vibrato. As I get older, I think I've gotten better." He continues, "Dustin Hoffman has a saying about acting. Its 'Knowing how much to say without saying too much.' For me, as a player, my motto is 'Knowing how much to play without playing too much'."

For an early listen to repertoire from Unusual Suspects, the song "Mud Flap Momma," featuring Slash, has been interwoven in to the AppStar Games release Leslie West String Bend'a available for iPhone, iPod and iPad platforms. Alongside new repertoire, the timeless hit "Mississippi Queen" and other classics are included. Links for the iPhone and iPad versions are below.

At age 65, West has faced a significant challenge in learning to move forward following the amputation of his right leg just above the knee. The procedure occurred on June 19 in Biloxi, MS. On moving forward despite the adversity, West stated, "Call my podiatrist and see if I can get half off. I guess I'm a foot shorter now."

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