Monday, 5 March 2012

Ronnie Montrose Dead at 64

1947 - 2012

Noted Van guitarist, Ronnie Montrose, has died aged 64 after a long battle with prostate cancer. Montrose was born in Denver on November 29, 1947 and died on March 3, 2012 in Millbrae, California.
Ronnie Montrose was an American rock guitarist who led a number of his own bands as well as performed and did session work with a variety of musicians, including Sammy Hagar, Herbie Hancock, Van Morrison, The Beau Brummels, Boz Scaggs, Beaver & Krause, Gary Wright, Tony Williams, The Neville Brothers, Dan Hartman, Edgar Winter and Johnny Winter.  He was a respected guitar virtuoso and his work spanned a wide number of genres. 
His start in the music business came about in 1969 when 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 David Rubinson, the producer, 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 (1972).
Montrose played briefly with Boz Scaggs and then joined the Edgar Winter Group in 1972. He then formed his own band, Montrose, in 1973, featuring Sammy Hagar on vocals.  Eventually Hagar left but Montrose continued to put out albums as "Montrose" until he formed Gamma in 1979.  He continued to record through the 1980s and 1990s, and Gamma put out a fourth album in 2005.

 The original Montrose lineup also reformed to play as a special guest at several Sammy Hagar concerts in summer 2004 and 2005. Ronnie Montrose has also performed regularly from 2002 to present with a Montrose lineup featuring Keith St. John on lead vocals and a rotating cast of veteran hard rock players on bass and drums.
He was also a song writer of note.  Iron Maiden and Van Halen were two bands who covered his songs. 
On his most recent tour, in late 2009, Montrose revealed that he had successfully fought prostate cancer over the last two years however, the cancer returned soon after. On March 3, 2012, having battled the disease for almost five years, Montrose died from prostate cancer.
He is survived by his wife and manager Leighsa Montrose.  Together they had two children, a son, Jesse and a daughter, Kira, who gave them five grandchildren.
Soon after his death a message was posted on his website stating "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."

Ronnie Montrose’s Van Session Work

Van Morrison - Tupelo Honey (1971)
Van Morrison - Saint Dominic's Preview (1972) (“Listen to the Lion” only)
Van Morrison - The Philosopher's Stone (1971/1972) "Ordinary People" & "Wonderful Remark" [compilation released 1999]


  1. Truly a loss, and the world, we must continue to keep his spirit alive by sharing his music with the youth... Thanks for what you did for me

    1. Let's hope there will always be a place in the world for honest music played with passion. In an era of image make overs and targeted demographics music - real and raw - remains a treasured but undervalued thing. Who votes for adding real music to the World Heritage listings?