Mountain guitarist Leslie admits he cried after emergency amputation, but looks on the bright side: he didn’t lose an arm

Leslie West

Lucky man: Leslie West

Mountain guitarist Leslie West admits he cried after his leg was amputated in emergency surgery last month – but with his new album due out in September he has plenty of reasons to look on the bright side.

West contracted an infection connected with diabetes on the way to a Mountain show in Mississippi. A two-day battle to stop it spreading to the rest of his body led to half of his right leg being removed.

But he tells Billboard.com: “It’s a good thing it wasn’t one of my arms – then I’d be really fucked.

“I cried a couple of times. I look down and say, ‘Where is it?’ You still feel the nerves and stuff like that. But I had to make a decision: lose my leg or lose my life. What are you gonna do?”

West is undergoing two therapy sessions a day, rebuilding his body’s muscle strength, learning to move and balance on one leg, and learning how to use a wheelchair.

He’s hoping to have a prosthetic limb fitted by the time he begins touring his record Unusual Suspects in September.

“I’m glad the album was all done before the surgery happened,” he says. “There’s no way I’d even care about doing an album if it wasn’t.

“Even with Mountain shows I’d sit for the ballads – but I could stand up too. I have no idea what it’s going to be like because I haven’t got that far yet. We’ll see what happens and hope for the best.”

The 12-track Unusual Suspects includes guest appearances from Slash, Billy Gibbons, Zakk Wylde, Steve Lukather and Joe Bonamassa.

Related stories: