Leslie West, guitarist for the rock group Mountain and a 65-year-old diabetic, is recovering after his lower right leg was amputated.
The amputation Monday was needed to stop a septic infection that started in his foot, according to an e-mailed statement from his wife, Jenni West.
"The doctors tried for two days to save it to no avail," she wrote in the statement forwarded to The Associated Press by publicist Steve Karas. "The decision to amputate was one that was necessary to save his life as the infection was spreading throughout his body."
The infection was complicated by peripheral arterial disease and "blood clotting factors," she wrote.
Mountain was among the groups that played at the 1969 Woodstock festival. Early hits included "Mississippi Queen," "Never In My Life," "Theme From An Imaginary Western" and "Nantucket Sleighride." The group is widely credited as an early influence on heavy metal music.
The group split up in 1972 and West began a solo career which continued after the band re-formed in the 1980s. The original bassist, Felix Pappalardi, was killed in 1983.
The Wests married on stage after Mountain's performance at the Woodstock 40th anniversary concert in Bethel, New York.
Known for his girth in his younger days, Leslie West has slimmed down significantly over the years. He also has become a part of radio shock jock Howard Stern's circle, sometimes appearing on Stern's show.
Leslie West had been scheduled to perform with Mountain on Friday in Biloxi, "with future touring plans coming together to support the release of his next solo album `The Unusual Suspects,'" Karas wrote in an e-mail.
But after the flight to Biloxi, "his leg started to swell and go numb and turn blue. So they took him to the hospital Friday afternoon," said manager Bob Ringe.
The operation was performed at Ocean Springs Hospital, Jenni West wrote. "The nursing staff and doctors at Ocean Springs Hospital have taken excellent care of him and should be called angels for their efforts and tenderness they showed us in this time of crisis."
Karas said the release date for "The Unusual Suspects," which includes performances by drummer Kenny Aronoff and guitarists Billy Gibbons of ZZ Top, Slash, Zakk Wylde, Joe Bonamassa, and Steve Lukather, has not yet been set.
"We're still waiting on guidance on whether it'll be fall or early next year," he said.