Leslie West: "I wanted the biggest tone, and vibrato like somebody who plays violin in a 100-piece orchestra"

Leslie West
(Image credit: Fin Costello/Redferns)

Leslie West always an unlikely guitar hero. His massive physical presence – he weighed 300 pounds at the dawn of the '70s – defied the longstanding vogue for undernourished-looking, rail-thin rock guitar slingers. 

And he never cultivated dazzling fretboard techniques, relying instead on pure soul, a powerhouse singing voice, and one of the meatiest electric guitar tones ever to burst from a speaker cabinet.     

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Alan di Perna

In a career that spans five decades, Alan di Perna has written for pretty much every magazine in the world with the word “guitar” in its title, as well as other prestigious outlets such as Rolling Stone, Billboard, Creem, Player, Classic Rock, Musician, Future Music, Keyboard, grammy.com and reverb.com. He is author of Guitar Masters: Intimate Portraits, Green Day: The Ultimate Unauthorized History and co-author of Play It Loud: An Epic History of the Sound Style and Revolution of the Electric Guitar. The latter became the inspiration for the Metropolitan Museum of Art/Rock and Roll Hall of Fame exhibition “Play It Loud: Instruments of Rock and Roll.” As a professional guitarist/keyboardist/multi-instrumentalist, Alan has worked with recording artists Brianna Lea Pruett, Fawn Wood, Brenda McMorrow, Sat Kartar and Shox Lumania.