Mountain is one of those rare bands in the past thirty years that can be credited with forging a style and sound that would for ever change the face of Rock music. The innovative studio and live music of Mountain’s Leslie West, Felix Pappalardi, Corky Laing and Steve Knight is one of those elite examples. The combination of Leslie’s unique tone and feel, Felix’s studio production skills, Corky’s powerful double-bass drumming and Steve’s keyboard textures, produced some of the best and memorable rock tunes ever – “Mississippi Queen”, “Nantucket Sleighride”, “Theme From an Imaginary Western”, “Yasgur’s Farm”, “Never in My Life”, “Blood of the Sun”, “Dreams of Milk and Honey” - all stand the test of time and are forever etched in rock history. These songs came from the classic rock albums, Leslie West-Mountain, Mountain-Climbing! and Nantucket Sleighride. Mountain only lasted two-and-half years but that’s all it took to create their permanent legacy.
Mountain was born out of the sixties music explosion. Leslie came from The Vagrants, an East Coast powerhouse band that was making a name for themselves. Corky came from the band, Energy, that was produced by Felix Pappalardi. Felix had extensive producing credits before Mountain formed in 1969.He was a classically trained musician who studied conducting and music arranging in college. His skills eventually lead him to Mountain. He produced Cream’s Disreali Gears and worked with many other prominent artists from the Greenwich Village folk scene. Steve Knight was brought in by Felix because of prior musical affiliations. Eventually this small web of the music scene brought these four guys together. They debuted at the Fillmore in 1969 and went on to play at the granddaddy of all music festivals, Woodstock. They established themselves as one of the premiere rock bands of their time. The band eventually called it quits in 1972.
In 1974 West and Pappalardi reformed Mountain with Allan Schwartzberg on drums and Bob Mann (of pioneering jazz rock band Dreams) on keyboards and guitar – a tour yielded the double-live album Twin Peaks. The studio work, Avalanche, with rhythm guitarist David Perry and Corky Laing once again on drums, was the last heard from the band for over a decade.
On April 17, 1983, Gail Collins Pappalardi, Felix’s wife and songwriting partner who had designed many of the band’s album covers, shot Pappalardi in the neck in their fifth-floor East Side Manhattan apartment. He was pronounced dead at the scene and Collins was charged with second-degree murder. Later cleared of that charge, she was convicted of the lesser criminally negligent homicide and sentenced to sixteen months to four years in prison. After her release from jail, she vanished into private life.
Mountain reformed in 1985, releasing Go for Your Life. They have continued to record and tour, with bassist Richie Scarlet (known for his work with Ace Frehley, Sebastian Bach and his multiple solo records) rounding out the lineup. Their most recent album is 2007’s Masters of War, featuring twelve Bob Dylan covers and a guest appearance from Ozzy Osbourne.