Guitarist Ronnie Montrose died this past Saturday after a long battle with prostate cancer. He is best known for his work with his band “Montrose”, formed in 1973, which featured a young Sammy Hagar on vocals.
Montrose’s first breakthrough came when he appeared on Van Morrison’s 1971 Tupelo Honey album. He went onto make appearances on records by Boz Scaggs and Herbie Hancock, and then moved on to form his own Montrose in 1973. The band featured Sammy Hagar on vocals (at that point unknown) and Bill Church and Denny Carmassi, on bass and drums, respectively. The first album, titled just “Montrose” served to influence Van Halen (which Hagar would go on to join) and has since gone platinum. It is considered to be an early influence on the heavy metal genre.
Van Halen and Iron Maiden are two notable groups that covered Montrose songs from the Hagar era, but Hagar would only remain with the group through the release of the second album, Paper Money, which was released in 1974.
According to Wikipedia, the downfall of the band was due to lack of a marketing initiative by Warner Bros., who were focused on Deep Purple and The Doobie Brothers in the same time period.
Montrose later formed a second band called Gamma, and would continue to release albums under the band names Gamma and Montrose, as well as solo albums through the 1980's.
Ronnie Montrose and Sammy Hagar later would later work together again, when Montrose appeared on Hagar’s 1997 album Marching to Mars, on the track "Leaving the Warmth of the Womb." The two performed together a few times on stage after recording.
The below statement was released by the Ronnie Montrose’s website:
"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."