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Mountain is a legendary American rock band that emerged in the late 1960s and achieved widespread acclaim for their distinctive blend of hard rock, blues, and psychedelic music.
The band is best known for their enduring classic song "Mississippi Queen" and their prominent role in shaping the sound of 1970s hard rock and heavy metal. Here is a detailed history of Mountain:
Formation and Early Years (1969-1972):
Mountain was formed in 1969 by Leslie West (guitar and vocals) and Felix Pappalardi (bass and vocals), both of whom had previously worked with the rock band Cream. They were joined by Steve Knight (keyboards) and N.D. Smart (drums). The band's name, "Mountain," was inspired by West's nickname, "The Great White Mountain."
In 1970, Mountain released their debut album, "Climbing!," which featured the iconic track "Mississippi Queen." The song became a massive hit and is considered a classic of rock music. The album's success established Mountain as a major force in the emerging hard rock scene.
Woodstock Festival (1969):
Mountain's breakthrough performance came at the Woodstock Music and Art Fair in August 1969. They played on the second day of the festival and delivered a memorable set that contributed to their growing popularity. Their rendition of "Theme for an Imaginary Western" from that performance remains one of the standout moments of Woodstock.
Subsequent Albums (1970-1972):
Following the success of "Climbing!," Mountain released several more albums during their early years, including "Nantucket Sleighride" (1971), "Flowers of Evil" (1971), and "Mountain Live: The Road Goes Ever On" (1972). These albums continued to showcase the band's bluesy, heavy rock sound.
Lineup Changes and Disbandment (1972-1974):
Mountain experienced several lineup changes during the early 1970s. N.D. Smart was replaced by Corky Laing on drums, and Steve Knight was replaced by David Perry on keyboards. These changes did not halt the band's productivity, and they released "Avalanche" in 1974. However, shortly after, Pappalardi was shot and killed by his wife, Gail Collins, which led to a tumultuous period for the band. Leslie West and Corky Laing continued to tour and record as Mountain with various lineup changes.
Reformation and Later Years (1974-Present):
Mountain disbanded in the mid-1970s, but Leslie West and Corky Laing continued to work together on various projects. In the 1980s and 1990s, different incarnations of Mountain reformed, and the band continued to tour and record. Leslie West remained the consistent driving force behind the band until his passing in December 2020.
Mountain's music had a significant influence on the development of hard rock and heavy metal. Bands like Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath, and Deep Purple were inspired by Mountain's bluesy, guitar-driven sound. "Mississippi Queen" remains one of the most recognizable songs in rock history, and the band's enduring legacy lives on through their contribution to the genre.
While Mountain experienced multiple lineup changes and challenges over the years, their impact on the rock and metal scene endures, and they are remembered as one of the pioneering bands of the hard rock genre.