Leslie West says that a looming new album in August and concert tour this fall have given him incentive to recover from having the bottom half of his right leg amputated last month.
“I don’t think there is another attitude,” the former Mountain man recently told Billboard.com from the New Jersey rehabilitation facility where he’s being taught how to live without the leg after it was removed just above the knee on June 20 in Memphis, due to complications from diabetes. “I cried a couple fuckin’ times. I look down — ‘Where is it?!’ You still feel the nerves and stuff like that. I had to make a decision – lose my leg or lose my life. What are you gonna do? But I’ll tell you,” the guitarist adds, “it’s a good thing it wasn’t one of my arms. Then I’d be really fucked.”
Leslie West will release the new solo album, Unusual Suspects, on September 20th. The album follows the recent news that West underwent life-saving surgery on June 17th, when his leg was amputated above the knee. West (a long-time sufferer of type 2 Diabetes) was aboard a long-haul flight to Mississippi to perform at the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino, when the limb began to swell. He was rushed to the emergency room and lost consciousness. The decision to proceed with the operation was made by his wife, Jenni, who remarks, “It was his leg or his life.” This ordeal hasn’t fazed West as he insisted on honoring the album release date.
Released by Provogue Records, Unusual Suspects features West performing alongside an all-star hand-picked line-up of the world’s finest guitar players, including Slash, blues-rock guitarist Joe Bonamassa, Black Label Society frontman and ex-Ozzy Osbourne guitarist Zakk Wylde, ZZ Top’s Billy Gibbons and Toto’s Steve Lukather. Unusual Suspects is West’s first album since 2006’s Blue Me.
“These guys don’t just show up to play on everybody’s albums,” says West on his special guests and the album’s title. “They’re all stars in their own right, and fantastic players – everyone with their own sound and style, about as far from the usual suspects as it gets.”
Unusual Suspects tracklisting:
‘One More Drink For The Road’ (featuring Steve Lukather)
‘Mudflap Mama’ (featuring Slash)
‘To The Moon’
‘Standing On A Higher Ground’ (featuring Billy F. Gibbons)
‘Third Degree’ (featuring Joe Bonamassa)
‘Nothing’s Changed’ (featuring Zakk Wylde)
‘I Feel Fine’
‘Love You Forever’
‘You & Me’
‘Turn Out The Lights’ (featuring Slash & Zakk Wylde)
‘Beetle – I Don’t Know’ (Bonus track)
Leslie West has been a regular on the Howard Stern Radio Show for quite some time and it was Stern whom he gave an interview in late June 2011, from his hospital bed, mere days after undertaking life-saving surgery which saw his leg amputated above the knee.
“Now I’ve got to figure out how to play the guitar [whilst standing] on one leg,” he states, under no illusions regarding the size of the task ahead. “The prosthetic ones they have these days are really good, but of course I’m used to balancing my weight on two feet. I’m going to have to retrain myself.” Best of luck to you Leslie!!