Legendary guitarist Ronnie Montrose passed away today at the age of 64.
Montrose began his career playing on the seminal album, “Tupelo Honey”, in 1971 with Van Morrison. After numerous gigs as a sideman (you can hear his guitar work on the Edgar Winter Group’s “Frankenstein” and “Free Ride”), he formed his own self-titled four-man band, Montrose. Ronnie is credited with introducing Sammy Hagar to the world on their debut album with tracks like “Rock Candy”, “Rock The Nation”, “Bad Motor Scooter” and “Space Station No. 5”. After Montrose broke up, Ronnie formed the band Gamma, and then had numerous solo albums and more session work with the likes of Johnny Winter and the Neville Brothers. He even reunited with Hagar and the original Montrose lineup on a Hagar solo album.
A statement posted on his website Sunday said, “A few months ago, we held a surprise party for Ronnie Montrose’s 64th birthday. He gave an impromptu speech and told us that after a long life, filled with joy and hardship, he didn’t take any of our love for granted. He passed today. He’d battled cancer, and staved off old age for long enough. And true to form, he chose his own exit the way he chose his own life. We miss him already, but we’re glad to have shared him while we could.”