RONNIE MONTROSE: Dead at 64
Ronnie Montrose, the guitarist that helped launch Sammy Hagar's career, died Saturday. He was 64. No official cause of death was announced, but he had been battling prostate cancer for the past five years.
A statement on his website says, "A few months ago, we held a surprise party for Ronnie'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... And true to form, he chose his own exit the way he chose his own life..."
Montrose got his start playing for Van Morrison on 1971's Tupelo Honey and 1972's St. Dominic's Preview. He joined the Edgar Winter Group to perform on "Frankenstein" and "Free Ride" before starting his own group, Montrose, in 1973, tapping Sammy Hagar as his singer.
Hagar issued a statement saying, "Ronnie Montrose gave me my first break as a songwriter, as a front man, as a recording artist, as a touring artist, and for that I will always be grateful. I was looking forward to a reunion for my birthday bash [in October] in Cabo with Denny [Carmassi], Bill [Church] and Ronnie - one of the few bands from that era where all four original members were still able to do it. It's a shame to lose Ronnie and I'm so sorry for his loved ones. Rest in peace."
Montrose continued on without Hagar, and released three more albums. Ronnie did nine albums as a solo artist.
Various musicians reacted to Montrose's death over the weekend: