Mon March 5, 2012

Remembering The Music of Ronnie Montrose

Rock guitarist Ronnie Montrose died on Saturday following a battle with prostate cancer. The one-time Colorado resident leaves a legendary career as a band member, solo artist and some unforgettable session work.

A statement on his official website reads:

Ronnie Montrose ~ 1947-2012

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 with him while we could.

Montrose started his career working as a session and backing musician, working with Van Morrison, Edgar Winter, Gary Wright, Boz Scaggs and more. Grab your copy of Van Morrison's seminal Tupelo Honey, you'll find Ronnie Montrose right behind Van the Man in the liner notes - on backing vocals, guitar and mandolin.

Finally striking out on his own, Montrose formed his eponymously named band in 1973, and that brought along another soon to be well known name, Sammy Hagar. That debut will be remembered though for the hard driving guitar work of Montrose; the swelling acceleration of "Bad Motor Scooter", the heavy thump of "Rock Candy" and the atmosphere then eventual blistering drone in "Space Station No. 5".

Hagar would be fired from the band after the tour behind the second album, Paper Money, and the band would never achieved the success of that debut again. There remained goodwill though, with Montrose appearing on the Red Rocker's '97 Marching to Mars for a song. Hagar posted a statement on twitter and his website:

After Montrose dissolved, then came Gamma who cranked out 4 numerically named albums. 2 featured this Thunderclap Newman cover:

Ronnie Montrose continued to work and tour, even after revealing his fight with cancer. Here is Ronnie playing in Dallas at the Poor Davids Pub on October, 7th 2011, showing no signs that his guitar had suffered (skip to :54 of the start).

Ronnie Montrose was 64.