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  • Posted March 2016

    West Leslie CREDIT JUSTINBORUCKI 001Photo by Justin BoruckiOne of the most talked about performances at Woodstock (but didn’t’ get to make it on the movie) is the eleven song set by Mountain. At the time, the band was mostly noted for it’s cover of the Jack Bruce tune, Theme for an Imaginary Western, as well as blistering guitar solos by the bands founder, Leslie West.

    In the years that followed, the band continued to blaze musical trails, ultimately releasing eight studio and three live albums. It’s signature hit became “Mississippi Queen” that has been heard all over the world and used in movies, TV shows and commercials. 

    Leslie West also simultaneously launched a successful solo career, marked by fifteen solo albums – sixteen when you include his new monumental effort, “Soundcheck.” It was for “Soundcheck” that I recently contacted West by phone. In fact, I called him on the 45th anniversary of the passing of Jimi Hendrix. I was curious about your thoughts about him.

    “Well, it was really sad. He died at almost 28 years old. I’ve since become friends with his sister, Janie. She came through New York recently – within the last year. They’re doing a documentary on the Atlanta Pop Festival – with Jimi there. They were interviewing people that played it. She’s such a sweetheart.”

    Circling back to Jimi himself, West continued:

    “Too bad he’s not still around. I have very fond memories. I played with him at a club in New York at, like, one in the morning. Just me and him. Him playing bass and me playing guitar. In fact, on – our website – there’s a picture of Hendrix playing bass and me playing guitar that night. It’s not the greatest picture but you can certainly see that it’s him and me. 

    “He went WAY before his time. Yeah, that wasn’t a happy day.”

    Bringing the conversation to Leslie’s new CD, I asked him how many solo records this mad for him.

    “I think it’s sixteen solo albums, believe it or not. I think. Somebody wrote that the other day. I started to count them but I EverythingKnoxvilleLogoEditedfeel really tired so I’m not going to start to{mprestriction ids="*"} count. Ha! Ha! The good thing is this one I’m really proud of. The sound is great and I’ve got some good people playing on it.”

    When he says, “some good people,” West is referring to people such as Queen’s Brian May, Peter Frampton, Bonnie Bramlett, Jack Bruce and Joe Franco (via some resurrected studio tapes). When I said that having such a stellar group of artists willing to play on his album certain said a lot about the respect he has amongst such big names, Leslie said:

    “On the ‘Going Down’ track with Brian May, a friend of mine was producing at the time and he got us all together. So, when I was doing this album, nobody had ever heard it, I don’t think. The song was written by Don Nix. Don sang it originally. But when we listened to the masters of it, he didn’t use Brian’s solo. Somebody else finished producing it even though my friend started it. 

    “So, when me and my engineer heard it, I was playing the solo on the first half of the song. There was a break and then Brian played the solo on the second half on out. We put it together and it was great! We’ve got Max Milton playing the intro on piano. I get really excited. That’s probably my favorite guitar song to jam on of all time.”

    As we talked about the songs on the album, I mentioned how unique his treatment of the old song, “You Are My Sunshine,” was in its contrary delivery.

    West Leslie CREDIT JUSTINBORUCKI HR02Photo by Justin BoruckiWith a chuckle, Leslie shared the background to that version.

    “I gotta give credit to Sons of Anarchy because I heard somebody doing it on there. Instead of the major key that the sounds so happy, it was in a minor key. I said, ‘Boy, I think I can really do a very, very ‘funerally’ – funeral dirge – some kind of sad version of it.’ 

    “I called Peter Frampton because I’d done something with Peter the year before. I said, ‘Peter, I’ve got a version of ‘You Are My Sunshine’ that I’d love for you to play with me.’ I sent it to him. It really came out great. I’m really proud of it. Between the two of us – I think I started out playing the first solo and he played the second one. After the break in the middle, he plays the first solo and I play the last solo and we play the last line together.

    “I’ve known Peter forty-five years – something like that. Even though we’d toured together, we’d never actually played together. He had this tour last year called ‘Frampton’s Circus’. He invited me to play a couple of shows on it. It was the first time we had ever played together. Now we’ve played together twice.”

    After working with them on this record, are there any more plans to collaborate with any of these people in the future?

    “Well, there’s a young guitar player – Jim Cook – a blues player. He’s going to be opening for me in New York when I play B.B. King’s. I play a track on his album. I think the kid’s gonna be something special. I’m looking forward to that.”

    Having worked on all of the Mountain and solo records that he has – as well as appearing on many of his friends’ projects – I asked West how “Soundcheck” was different for him.

    “It’s not so much different than the last one I did, ‘Still Climbing,” because that was only two years ago. The machines and everything else – every two weeks there are new things to try out. We’re pretty much on ProTools. The secret to making a good album is a good engineer. I can just play and Mike can edit where I need editing. Putting songs together is a lot easier now that it used to be years ago.”

    As a “calling card” for the entire record, Leslie offered his choice of song:

    “The first cut, ‘Left by The Roadside to Die’. It starts with a synthesizer. I actually played that part on the guitar and had myWest Leslie CREDIT JUSTINBORUCKI HR05Photo by Justin Borucki keyboard player start to play it. So, right off the bat, I guess you’d expect to hear a guitar from me. This, at least, you hear that synthesizer come on and then I start playing some slide and it gets heavy. It shows some different phases of what I can do in one song. I would hope that would get you to listen to the rest of the album!”

    The best of the best guitarist are sought after by the various guitar manufacturers. It’s no surprise that Leslie West has a signature line through Dean Guitars. When asked how that line was doing, he said:

    “Great. We ran about five models. From very expensive, to the middle, to very inexpensive so everybody can play it. Even the less expensive ones have great graphics on it. The newest model is the Leslie West Peace guitar. It has my logo. The logo looks like a peace sign but, if you look closely, one of the lines on the circle is left out so it looks like an LW. It’s a black guitar with a silver peace sign on it. It looks great! It’s been a lot of fun. I mean, I feel sorry for Jimi Hendrix. He’s dead and he never had a model while he was alive.”

    Jimi Hendrix came up in the conversation about signature guitars when West started talking about what a Hendrix signature model might be.

    “They were upside down Stratocasters. They weren’t left-handed. He would take a regular Strat and just re-string it. A guy like Albert King, he used to turn the guitar upside down and play it backwards. I don’t know how the hell he did that! He had the big Flying V and just turned it upside down so, where the fat E string would be, he had the little, thin E, first! I wondered how he stretched the strings that far. 

    “The first gig we ever did was with Albert King. Fillmore West. Mountain’s first gig. I watched him play. I had been trying to develop my vibrato and stretch the strings. I wanted to stretch them as much as he could. When I found out that he was doing it from the opposite way, it made it a lot easier. I didn’t see that until I watched him. I wished that I had saw him before. It would’ve made my life a lot easier and simpler!”

    Circling back around to Hendrix, again, Leslie said:

    “Yeah, if Jimi was still around, I kinda know what his Strat would be like.”

    Our conversation turned to another great, legendary guitarist – one who recently passed away and who, like West, played at Woodstock: Johnny Winter.

    “I was on Johnny’s last album. ‘Long Tall Sally’. And Johnny played on my last album on the song, ‘Busted, Disgusted or Dead’. My engineer mixed Johnny’s last album and got a Grammy for it. We (Johnny) were pretty close. I actually helped Johnny get himself straightened out, drug wise. He didn’t die from drugs, man. He just died of natural causes. He wasn’t doing to well, health-wise. Neither was I, but, somehow, I’m still around!”

    That last comment gave me the opportunity to ask Leslie how he was doing. As some of you may not know, West has had some serious health problems over the last several years – including the loss of a leg - so I asked how he was doing. His initial remark blindsided me.

    “I was going to ask you, Randy: Did you find it (his leg)?” 

    Then, on a more serious note, he added:

    “My balance is terrible and I haven’t been able to use the prosthetic so I have to sit in a chair to play, unfortunately. But it hasn’t stopped me from playing. That’s a good thing. In rehab, they put me in the parallel bars with the prosthetic leg and made me put the guitar on. I put the guitar on and they wanted to see how long I could stand and play the guitar without falling. I didn’t last thirty seconds. 

    West Leslie CREDIT JUSTINBORUCKI 001Photo by Justin Borucki“I said, ‘You know, this isn’t going to work on stage. I don’t want to be worrying about falling when I’m trying to play.’ Even though you have a prosthetic, it feels like an alien to you.”

    Then, after sharing more about his adjustment to losing his leg, he said:

    “Life is precious, Randy. Thank God for the guitar, right?”

    I know you have many more years of work left in you but when you finally do go to that great gig in the sky, how do you want to be remembered and what do you hope your legacy will be?

    “When the time comes, and they cover me with dirt and grass, to all my critics that didn’t like the way I played, they can kiss my big . . . “

    I’ll leave it to you to figure out what else he said. 

  • Queen Bejart Ballet For Life coverQueen + Béjart Ballet Lausanne
    Eagle Vision
    Release Date: September 6, 2019

    When Boomerocity was launched over ten years ago, never was it imagined that a ballet would be reviewed, let alone raved about. In fact, ballets never entered the Boomerocity mindset. Period.

    That all changed when a review copy of Queen + Béjart: Ballet for Life hit our mailbox.

    Wow. Just wow.

    Now, y’all who feel the same way I felt, learn from me and order your own copy of Queen + Béjart: Ballet for Life. It’s absolutely amazing! It prompted me to research to see if there are other “rock ballets” out there, and there are. However, as a ballet novice, I must say that this DVD is, well, the Queen of the crop (Sorry. I couln’t help myself).

    Queen + Béjart: Ballet for Life documents Queen’s music as the inspiration for a unique ballet that has endured for over twenty years, on DVD, Blu-ray & digital video. The DVD and Blu-ray will also be available as deluxe editions, packaged in a 36-page hardback photo book featuring photos from the Ballet for Life.

    Ballet for Life was a unique collaboration between three cultural brands: Queen, Versace and the late visionary choreographer Maurice Béjart, celebrating the life and talents of legendary performers, Freddie Mercury and Maurice Béjart’s former principal dancer, Jorge Donn, both of whom died of AIDS. It was first performed in the Théâtre de Chaillot in Paris, France, in January 1997 in the presence of Madame Chirac, Elton John and the three surviving members of Queen, John Deacon, Brian May and Roger Taylor.

    Queen + Béjart: Ballet for Life features two programs: the documentary by Lynne Wake and Simon Lupton, and a full 1997 performance of the ballet by the Béjart Ballet Lausanne. The documentary, edited by Emmy Award winner Christopher Bird, tells the story of the creation and success of the ballet featuring the great and the good of both rock and dance, including: Brian May, Roger Taylor, Gil Roman, Wayne Sleep and Arlene Phillips. The performance includes incredible archive footage of Freddie Mercury, Maurice Béjart, Queen and Gianni Versace, as well as featuring Versace’s stunning costume designs. The production continues to tour widely, but is captured here performing at Théâtre Métropole in beautiful and historic Lausanne, Switzerland, in June 1997.

    The Ballet For Life film is directed by Maurice Béjart and David Mallet, known specifically for directing live performance concerts of such megastars as Tina Turner, David Bowie, The Rolling Stones, and numerous Queenvideos including “Bicycle Race”, “Radio Ga Ga”, “I Want to Break Free”, and Freddie’s classic “The Great Pretender” video.

    Maurice Béjart’s long-standing friend Gianni Versace was tragically killed in Miami shortly after the filming in Lausanne. Sadly, this departure into the world of ballet for Versace proved to be one of his last.

    " allowtransparency="no" width="120" height="240">The production marks the ultimate fusion of Queen’ssweeping emotional melodies, both live and studio tracks, and the timeless ethereal grace and movement of ballet. It is the first and only time a full-length ballet has been paired to rock music, albeit alongside some traditional pieces from Mozart. The theme of the choreography is about the cycle of life and life triumphing over death, which perfectly reflects the mood of the songs. Dancers fuse classical and modern ballet seamlessly to songs including, "It’s a Beautiful Day", "I Was Born to Love You," and "Radio Ga Ga", closing with the spectacular "The Show Must Go On". This release also includes a substantial segment of John Deacon’s final performance with Queen, taken from the Queen + Béjart Ballet for Life premiere performance with Elton John in Paris. 

    Béjart explained that with Ballet for Life he wanted to bring Freddie Mercury back to life, in doing so he created a delight for both Queen and ballet fans alike. Breaking with tradition, the packed audience applaud throughout the show. This is ballet as you’ve never seen it before, with the wild-eyed euphoria of a rock concert.

    Appropriately, Queen + Béjart: Ballet for Life will be released the day after the annual Freddie For A Day events, marking the birthday of the late, great Freddie Mercury. 100% of royalties payable by Eagle Rock Entertainment to Tonleigh Ltd will be donated to The Mercury Phoenix Trust fighting AIDS worldwide.

    About The Mercury Phoenix Trust
    The Mercury Phoenix Trust was founded in 1992 by Brian May, Roger Taylor and their manager Jim Beach in memory of rock band Queen’s iconic lead singer FREDDIE MERCURY who died in 1991 from AIDS related causes. In the last 27 years the Trust has given away over 16 million dollars in his name and funded over 1000 mainly grassroots projects in the global battle against HIV/AIDS. For more information on the Mercury Phoenix Trust visit:


    candlelightconcertscoverThe Candlelight Concerts

    Brian May and Kerry Ellis

    Label: Eagle Rock Records/Eagle Rock Entertainment

    Release Date: April 01, 2014

    Review Date: March 30, 2014

    As a teen growing up in Phoenix, Arizona, Queen was one of the phenomenal bands who dominated the airwaves and stereos across the Valley of the Sun. Their amazing creativity and blend of classical influences with solid rock and roll (with just a tad of flamboyance thrown in just to make it interesting), made Queen thestand out band of the seventies.

    While we have lost Freddie Mercury, the remaining members of the band are still alive, still creating, still innovating. This is especially true for the band’s iconic guitarist, Brian May, who, along with the lovely and talented, Kerry Ellis, have teamed together to release The Candlelight Concerts – Live At Montreux 2013 as a DVD + CD set and Blu-ray + CD.  

    This package offers up a treasure trove of covers classic songs that include, We Will Rock You, Born Free, The Way We Were, Crazy Little Thing Called Love, Tie Your Mother Down,and I Who Have Nothing.

    The DVD was filmed at the Stravinski Auditorium during the 2013 Montreux Jazz Festival. The Candlelight Concerts – Live At Montreux 2013 masterfully melds  Ellis’ beautiful voice with the amazing guitar playing of May. The film is of primarily acoustic performance sof standards, ballads, Queen songs and cover songs.  Brian’s guitar style flawlessly compliments Kerry’ vocals, giving a different life and interpretation to these timeless songs. 

    The Acoustic By Candlelight CD, recorded live during the UK portion of their tour in Autumn 2012.  The songs benefit from introductions by both Ellis and May that share background and influences of certain songs before they perform them. While some may not like the banter, I believe that it adds to the intimacy of the performances and give insight into the music that influenced these gifted artists. 

    There are two songs on the CD (I’m Not That Girl, I Can’t Be Your Friend,and In The BleakMidwinter) that aren’t on the DVD. There are also some songs on the DVD that aren’t on the CD (Somebody To Love, ’39, Last Horizon, We Will Rock You).  From what I can discern, the songs shared on both discs are different performances thus making both discs uniquely entertaining.  In both cases, the listener/viewer is treated to what can only be said to be a truly amazing musical experience.

    What is especially moving (and THE Boomerocity favorite) is the “bonus” performance on the DVD of Nothing Really Has Changed. It was recorded on location at the Shamwari Game Reserve in Eastern Cape, South Africa. It was performed for the person who actually wrote the song thirty-two years ago, Virginia McKenna, who also happens to be the founder of Born Free. Brian shares more of the story behind the song on the DVD and is worth the price of the package just to hear it.Roman';">

    If you’re a Queen fan hoping for some royal rockin’, this isn’t one of those kinds of offerings. But, please, don’t rob yourself of an incredible musical experience that will broaden your listening palate just like Queen began to do over forty years ago.

    Some things never change.







    1) I Who Have Nothing  


    2) Dust In The Wind  


    3) Born Free  


    4) Somebody To Love      


    5) Nothing Really Has Changed  


    6) Life Is Real  


    7) The Way We Were  


    8) ’39  


    9) Something   


    10) Last Horizon 


    11) Love Of My Life  


    12) The Kissing Me Song  


    13) Tie Your Mother Down  


    14) We Will Rock You  


    15) No One But You  


    16) Crazy Little Thing Called Love





    1) Born Free  


    2) I Loved A Butterfly  


    3) I Who Have Nothing  


    4) Dust In The Wind         


    5) The Kissing Me Song  


    6) Nothing Really Has Changed  


    7) Life Is Real  


    8) The Way We Were  


    9) Something  


    10) Love Of My Life  


    11) I’m Not That Girl  


    12) I Can’t Be Your Friend  


    13) In The Bleak Midwinter  


    14) Crazy Little Thing Called Love  


    15) No One But You (Only The Good Die Young)