If he were still with us, super guitarist Ronnie Montrose ( Ronnie Montrose Offi…

Written by on November 29, 2017

If he were still with us, super guitarist Ronnie Montrose ( Ronnie Montrose Official) would have been celebrating his 70th birthday today. Besides his solo career, Ronnie led the bands Montrose and Gamma and also performed and did session work with a variety of musicians, including Van Morrison, Herbie Hancock, Beaver & Krause, Boz Scaggs, Edgar Winter, Gary Wright, The Beau Brummels, Dan Hartman, Tony Williams, The Neville Brothers, Marc Bonilla, Sammy Hagar, and Johnny Winter. The first Montrose album was often cited as “America’s answer to Led Zeppelin.”

In 1969, he started out in a band called ‘Sawbuck’ with Bill Church. Montrose had been in the process of recording what would have been his first album with Sawbuck when producer David Rubinson arranged an audition with Van Morrison. Montrose got the job and played on Morrison’s 1971 album “Tupelo Honey.” He also played on the song “Listen to the Lion”, which was recorded during the Tupelo Honey sessions but released on Morrison’s next album “Saint Dominic’s Preview.”

He played briefly with Boz Scaggs and then joined the Edgar Winter Group in 1972, recording electric guitar, acoustic 12 string, and mandolin on Winter’s third album release, “They Only Come Out at Night”, which included the hit singles “Frankenstein” and “Free Ride”.

Montrose formed his own band, Montrose, in 1973, featuring Sammy Hagar on vocals. That incarnation of the band released two albums on Warner Bros. Records, Montrose and Paper Money, before Hagar left to pursue a solo career.

Montrose appeared on Sammy Hagar’s solo album “Marching to Mars” along with original Montrose members bassist Bill Church and drummer Denny Carmassi on the song “Leaving the Warmth of the Womb”. The original Montrose lineup also reformed to play as a special guest at several Sammy Hagar concerts in summer 2004 and 2005. Ronnie performed regularly from 2001 until 2011 with a new Montrose.

During his 2009 tour, he revealed that he had fought prostate cancer for the previous two years but was healthy once again and he continued to tour until his death in 2012.

On March 3, 2012, Montrose died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound. His death was originally assumed to be the result of his prostate cancer returning. However, the San Mateo County Coroner’s Office released a report which confirmed the guitarist had taken his own life.

The toxicology reported a blood alcohol content of 0.31 percent at the time of death. In early 2012, the deaths of his uncle and of Lola, his bulldog, worsened what Guitar Player magazine called a “clinical depression that plagued him since he was a toddler.”

Many people put Ronnie in their top 10 favorite guitar players of all time. Would you agree?

Happy Birthday Ronnie. Wish you were still with us.

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