This past Saturday (March 3), legendary guitarist Ronnie Montrose passed away after a five year battle with prostate cancer. He was 64 years old. Montrose’s official website released the following statement confirming the sad news:
“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 [March 3]. 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.”
“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 Cabo with Denny [Carnassi, drums], Bill [Church, bass] 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.”
After gaining success as a session player for the likes of Van Morrison and Herbie Hancock, the guitarist gained notoriety his own solo project under the moniker Montrose (featuring Sammy Hagar on vocals) and his other group Gamma. Montrose took a brief break after getting diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2007, but soon after started to perform live again. Our condolences go out to Montrose’s family and friends.