Monday, April 04, 2005

Tough Questions For Tough Jews: Leslie West

Musicians Dee Snider, Leslie West, Scott Ian, and J.J. French pose for a photo during a taping for the VH1 Classic special "Matzoh And Metal: A Very Classic Passover" at the VH1 Classic Studios March 28, 2005 in New York City. (Photo by Scott Gries/Getty Images)

You’ve heard his riffs on the radio, his kibitzing on The Howard Stern Show, and lately his guitars behind Ozzy Osbourne on the remade “Mississippi Queen.” Now Leslie West, front man for classic-rock survivors Mountain, goes pupik-to-pupik with field correspondent and resident hard yid Hank Magitz. Our man cornered West (a.k.a., Leslie Weinstein from Forest Hills) outside the defunct Shmulke Bernsteins where he was saying kaddish for his dearly departed pastrami on rye and half-sour pickle.

HANK MAGITZ: Besides complaining to Howard, what was your last authentic Jewish act?
LESLIE WEST: The other day we did this special for VH1 Classic called “Matzoh and Metal.”
HM: Come on.
LW: No shit. We shot the special the other day in New York and it was a lot of fun. It will be on right after Passover. The second night or day after. They’re gonna run it quite a few times. It’s with Scott Ian from Anthrax, myself, and both JJ French and Dee Snyder [of Twisted Sister]. Dee’s half Jewish so I wanted to have a mohel there and have him to a bris, but Dee said he was circumcised already. We talked about how Passover might have influenced our music—just four guys sitting at the table doing the wine, the prayers, the plagues, the bitter herbs. It can’t get more bitter than having Anthrax at the table.
HM:: Whose idea was that?
LW:: The president of VH1 Classic, Eric Sherman came up with it. He said he got the idea from me because we were in Hawaii and I was talking to him about how many Jewish rock musicians I’d found out there are. I didn’t realize there were so many—seems like more now than ever. Anyway, I thought it was going to be stupid, but it wasn’t. It was great. Manischewitz sponsored it. I just hope people don’t turn it off when they find out we’re Jewish, you know what I’m saying? But I really don’t give a shit.



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