Mountain, one of the acknowledged precursors to heavy metal, formed in Long Island, New York in 1969. The group began to coalesce when producer and bassist Felix Pappalardi began to work with guitarist Leslie West in the late 1960s. Pappalardi produced West’s solo album, 1969’s Mountain, though the band Mountain would not exist until later that year when the duo joined forces with drummer N.D. Smart and keyboardist Steve Knight. Mountain played the famous Woodstock festival within one of their first five live appearances. Corky Laing replaced Smart on drums before they went into the studio to record 1970’s Climbing!, their debut album that featured “Mississippi Queen”, a slab of boogie-blues that became a top 40 hit and would remain the song most associated the band and West in particular. The band’s sound, a psychedelic-tinged swath of bluesy proto heavy metal, owed a debt to Pappalardi’s previous associates, Cream. They continued with this sonic path for a pair of albums in 1971, Nantucket Sleighride and Flowers of Evil, and the group became even better known for volcanic live shows thanks to West’s outsized showmanship and skill. Pappalardi stepped away after a 1972 live album, and while that would end the classic line-up of the band, Mountain would reform off and on over the years, often with Mike Clark on bass after Pappalardi’s death in 1983. That line-up would record 1985’s Go For Your Life, the group’s last charting album, though new Mountain product would be produced as late as 2007’s Masters of War. West died on December 23, 2020.

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