Skip to main content

Watch Blackberry Smoke Guitarist Charlie Starr's "Mesmerizing" Performance with Guitar Legend Leslie West

Charlie Starr of Blackberry Smoke, 2022
Charlie Starr of Blackberry Smoke, 2022 (Image credit: Scott Dudelson/Getty Images for Stagecoach)

The release of Legacy: A Tribute to Leslie West demonstrates the respect felt by so many axe heroes for Leslie West’s unique talents.

The breadth of artists that contributed to it – from contemporaries like Robby Krieger and Martin Barre to shred legends such as Yngwie Malmsteen and Marty Friedman – highlights the fact that a truly great artist can transcend all genres.

Blackberry Smoke’s Charlie Starr formed a close friendship with West in his later years and was keen to be a part of the star-studded album project.

Any favorite personal memories of time spent with Leslie?

I got to play “Mississippi Queen” with him at the Beacon Theater in New York City. We jammed for something like 10 minutes before he even played the riff. It was mesmerizing.

It was mesmerizing

Charlie Starr

What are the highlights of Leslie’s back catalog for you?

When you make two records as strong as Climbing! (opens in new tab) and Nantucket Sleighride (opens in new tab), it’s hard to single out specific highlights, but for my money, not much is better than “Sittin’ on a Rainbow” and “To My Friend” [both from Climbing!].

Those two pieces of music cover the spectrum.

Why did you choose to cover “Silver Paper,” from Climbing!?

I don’t believe you could go wrong with any Mountain track, but this one has always hit home with me.

What is it about Leslie’s playing that spoke to you?

His playing is like a soulful singing voice. He never overplayed. His guitar was just an extension of his own amazing singing. Plus he has the best tone ever.

Order Legacy: A Tribute to Leslie West here (opens in new tab).

Mark is a freelance writer with particular expertise in the fields of ‘70s glam, punk, rockabilly and classic ‘50s rock and roll. He sings and plays guitar in his own musical project, Star Studded Sham, which has been described as sounding like the hits of T. Rex and Slade as played by Johnny Thunders. He had several indie hits with his band, Private Sector and has worked with a host of UK punk luminaries. Mark also presents themed radio shows for Generating Steam Heat. He has just completed his first novel, The Bulletproof Truth, and is currently working on the sequel.