Leslie West Shares Story Behind Mississippi Queen

(Gibson) Had Leslie West done nothing more than record "Mississippi Queen" one of rock guitar's finest moments -- his place in music history would be assured. Fact is, however, that classic, which West recorded with the legendary trio Mountain, is just one chapter in a vast body of work that attests to his monumental skills.

In the summer of 2011, West underwent an amputation of his lower leg due to complications from Type 2 diabetes. Just three months later, he released Unusual Suspects, a guitarist's dream album featuring an A-list of fellow six-string greats. Such is the fortitude of the man.

In the quotes below, he talks about playing with Jimi Hendrix, how he gets his unique tone and the "coolest rock star" with whom he's ever jammed.

On how "Mississippi Queen" was written, as told to Gibson.com: [Mountain drummer] Corky Laing came up with the lyric when he was in his previous band, Energy. He was playing the drums at some club, and the power went out. He saw a girl dancing, and he wanted to keep her dancing, so he started shouting out this stuff. When we got together, he showed me the lyric. I already had the music, and we constructed the song in about 20 minutes.

On playing with Pete Townshend during the Who's Next sessions, as told to Gibson.com: I got a call from The Who's manager, asking if I wanted to play on the album. I was like, "Well, they have a guitar player." But he said Pete didn't want to play lead guitar, that he wanted me to play. It was really funny, those sessions. [Producer] Kit Lambert ran around holding up signs, whenever we would be getting good take. He did that during "Won't Get Fooled Again," holding a sign up that said, "GOOD JOB. KEEP IT UP." Later, of course, they re-did the album with Glyn Johns producing. But Pete did release the original sessions, many years later. I gave him a Les Paul Junior, at those sessions. Read the rest here.

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Copyright Gibson.com - Excerpted here with permission.

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