Ronnie Montrose Has Died, He was 64.

Posted 04 Mar 2012 in Music + TV News


They’re just short paragraphs that were announced on his website and facebook page just a short time ago, but they hit hard.  Guitarist Ronnie Montrose has passed away at the age of 64.  In 2009 he had announced that he had succesfully battled prostrate cancer for two years. He last toured in 2011.

This was the statement from the Montrose camp:

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.


He leaves a magnificent legacy that would make any guitarist proud. From some of his early days with Herbie Hancock, Van Morrison and Edgar Winter, thru his own great band like Montrose, Gamma or Ronnie Montrose.  He will indeed be missed.

–Larry Carta


Less than two weeks ago we had taken a look at his historic Montrose album. Here’s that piece.


Today’s Cool Album of the Day (#637 in the Series) is the Montrose debut release, Montrose.

When was the last time you pulled this one out of the rack? Talk about an album that sounds as good in ’12 as it did in ’73. I’m truly amazed how timeless this one sounds.   I’m betting that twenty years from now I’d be saying the same thing.

I listened to this one about a year ago for the first time in a decade, at least. I couldn’t get over how much fun I had in reminiscing.  The groove in “Space Station #5” really stood out. I think I played the darn song twice. Of course you still have the classics like “Rock Candy.” “Bad Motor Scooter” and “Rock The Nation.”

All I had known about Ronnie Montrose up to this point was that he played on the Edgar Winter classic They Only Came Out At Night. I never knew that he also played with Van Morrison until just recently. He also did some work with Herbie Hancock.

The lead singer on this project was of course,”Sam” Hagar. At least that’s how he was billed back in those days. The remaining members were Ronnie Montrose on guitar, Bill Church on bass and Denny Carmassi on drums.  They would release five albums in total plus a greatest hits package.  This was the only album with that lineup.

We know what Hagar did with his career. Carmassi would eventually be part of Heart and Whitesnake, and Coverdale-Page.  Coverdale-Page.  I forgot about them, and shouldn’t it have been Page-Coverdale?  Ronnie Montrose would eventually change the name of the band to simply Ronnie Montrose. Their first album would be Open Fire.  On the tour for that album, Steve Smith played drums.  I saw a show in ’78 at the Aragon Ballroom in Chicago that saw Journey with Ronnie Montrose. I’m wondering if that’s how the connection was made that saw Smith end up with them.  By the way, the first band on the bill that day, Van Halen.   Oh, and yes, that was when Journey was pre-you know who. You shouldn’t even have to ask me that.

Some critics called Montrose and the album “Heavy Metal” Ron disagrees with this. I read an interview that he did with Matt Munoz the editor of … “I always shied away from the label of ‘heavy metal,’ because I considered Montrose heavy rock. Heavy metal to me is bands like Metallica and Megadeth in the ’80s. My heroes were Zeppelin, Free and Deep Purple. In my mind, because of my own sensibilities, and my — for lack of better terms — nomenclature and sematics, all of us, including Aerosmith, were not metal. It was all heavy rock.”

Montrose peaked at only 133 on the Billboard Top 200 Album chart. I’d love to know the totals units sold as I think he remained steady for a long, long time.

— Larry Carta

Track listing

  1. “Rock the Nation” (Ronnie Montrose) – 3:03
  2. “Bad Motor Scooter” (Sam Hagar)- 3:41
  3. “Space Station #5” (Hagar, Montrose) – 5:18
  4. “I Don’t Want It” (Hagar, Montrose)- 2:58
  5. “Good Rockin’ Tonight” (Roy Brown) – 2:59
  6. “Rock Candy” (Denny Carmassi, Bill Church, Hagar, Montrose)- 5:05
  7. “One Thing on My Mind” (Hagar, Montrose, Sanchez) – 3:41
  8. “Make It Last” (Hagar) – 5:31


  • Sam Hagar – lead vocals
  • Ronnie Montrose – guitar
  • Bill Church – bass
  • Denny Carmassi – drums


You can hear the full album below
He last played Chicago in Oct of 2011. Here are some home made vids from that show

Here’s an interview that Ronnie did with Shawn Perry of in September of ’10

Posted by Larry Carta


  1. Peter Boucher (04 Mar 2012, 4:58)

    Another legendary Rock Music guitarist has passed on. Ronnie Montrose has died on March 1st, 2012 at the age of 64 Though not known to the masses of people, I was very big on his music, especially his “Open Fire” LP. He is also responsible for recruiting Sammy Hagar as he played back-up guitar for him before going on a solo career and with Van Halen. He was a truly an amazing guitarist. Thank You Ronnie and may you R.I.P.

  2. coachmaddog (04 Mar 2012, 8:48)

    Glad you reviewed this before his passing. He was a great guitarist. 64 is too young.

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