Mountain Biography

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One of the first generation heavy metal bands, Mountain was formed by ex-Vagrants guitarist Leslie West (Leslie Weinstein, 22 October 1945, Forest Hills, New York, USA) and bass player Felix Pappalardi (b. 30 December 1939, the Bronx, New York City, New York, USA, d. 17 April 1983, Manhattan, New York City, New York, USA) in New York in July 1969. Pappalardi had produced West’s debut solo album, Mountain, released that summer. Augmented by drummer N.D. Smart (b. Norman Smart) and Steve Knight on keyboards, they played the Woodstock Festival later in the year (although their performance did not appear in the film of the event). Their debut album Climbing! was released the following year, with Corky Laing (b. Laurence Gordon Laing, 26 January 1948, Montreal, Quebec, Canada) replacing Smart. Featuring dense guitar lines from West and the delicate melodies of Pappalardi, Mountain quickly established their own sound, although Cream influences were detectable in places. The album was an unqualified success, peaking at number 17 in the Billboard album chart in November 1970. Their next two albums built on this foundation, as the band refined their style into an amalgam of heavy riffs, blues-based rock and extended guitar and keyboard solos. Nantucket Sleighride (the title track of which was later used as the theme tune to the UK television programme Weekend World) and Flowers Of Evil made the Billboard charts at numbers 16 and 35, respectively.

A live album followed, which included interminably long solos and was poorly received. The outfit then temporarily disbanded to pursue separate projects. Pappalardi returned to producing, while West and Laing teamed up with Cream’s Jack Bruce to record as West, Bruce And Laing. In 1974, Mountain rose again with Alan Schwartzberg and Bob Mann replacing Laing and Knight to record Twin Peaks, live in Japan. This line-up was short-lived as Laing rejoined for the recording of the disappointing studio album, Avalanche. The band collapsed once more and West returned to his solo career. Pappalardi was shot and killed by his wife Gail Collins in 1983. Two years later, West and Laing resurrected Mountain with Mark Clarke (former Rainbow and Uriah Heep bass player) and released Go For Your Life. They toured with Deep Purple throughout Europe in 1985, but kept a low profile for the remainder of the decade. They recorded two new songs with ex-Jimi Hendrix bass player Noel Redding for a 1995 anthology. Suitably inspired, West, Laing and Clarke released Man’s World the following year. A five year hiatus ensued before West and Laing reunited to record the 2002 studio album, Mystic Fire. They have continued to tour as Mountain with bass player Richie Scarlet.

Source: The Encyclopedia of Popular Music by Colin Larkin. Licensed from Muze.

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