Leslie West first gained recognition as the lead guitarist for the Vagrants, a locally popular 1960s Long Island group. One of that band's singles was produced by Felix Pappalardi, a bass player who also produced Cream. After the Vagrants and Cream split up, Pappalardi played bass on and produced West's debut solo album, Mountain (July 1969). Following its release, the two teamed up with drummer Norman Smart (soon replaced by Corky Laing) and keyboard player Steve Knight to form the band Mountain. They cut the albums Climbing! (February 1970, a gold-selling LP featuring the Top 40 single "Mississippi Queen"), Nantucket Sleighride (January 1971, which also went gold), and Flowers of Evil (November 1971). In 1972, Pappalardi left Mountain to return to producing. (Posthumous record releases included Mountain Live (The Road Goes on Forever) ...
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