Ronnie Monstrose Passes Away

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The Legacy Ronnie Montrose Built

Ronnie MontroseRock guitar legend Ronnie Montrose just passed away on March 3rd of 2012 at the age of 64 due to unfortunate complications from prostate cancer. He had been a prominent guitar figure since the 1970s up through 2012 with a musical career that spanned an expansive solo project including 14 albums spanning 16 years and four albums with the band Gamma. Not to be overlooked was his nearly endless list of contributions as a session guitarist with pretty much everyone including several contributions to Van Morrison, Herbie Hancock, Sammy Hagar, Lauren Wood, and a crap-load more musicians.

A Dose Of Monrose History

In addition to his studio recordings he was also a producer having worked with Jeff Berlin and Mitchell Froom to name a couple, and played mandolin, mandocello, bass, and koto in addition to his works on the guitar. He is survived by his wife, daughter, and five grandchildren.

Born in San Francisco, California where Montrose spent his formative years until he booked it to Colorado. He had been working on his music career since 1969 which led him to his auditioning for and soon employed position as Van Morrison’s guitarist on the album Tupelo Honey with one song from the then recording session to be carried over to the follow up album Saint Dominic’s Preview.

Montrose then began working with Boz Scaggs for a short period of time before joining forces with the monster multi-instrumentalist Edgar Winter and contributed guitars and mandolins throughout the album and assisted in the writing of Rock n’ Roll Boogie Woogie Blues.

After that Montrose’s itch to return to writing his own music and in 1973 he started his first solo project and debut album simply entitled Montrose which showcases the first time he and Sammy Hagar first crossed paths. That was a partnership that would linger over to his followup album Paper Money and would lead to reunions between the two and fellow band mates in the future.

As he worked forward on his solo career he continued to do session work and later in 1979 started up the band Gamma with musicians Davey Pattison, Jim Alcivar, Alan Fitzgerald, and Skip Gillette. With a few lineup changes along the way they managed to crank out 3 studio albums in under 4 years before he went back to yet again some more session work, this time for Paul Kantner, and then back to his solo projects to release two more albums in two years.

I can easily summarize his work through the later 80s and 90s by simply stating that he followed his routine quite the same. By the 90s Gamma had split up, and Montrose continued with his career doing session work as well as recording for his solo projects, but one thing that he’d done in the 90s stands out a bit more. In 1996 he had composed the soundtrack for and even made some small cameo appearances in the Sega Saturn game Mr. Bones. It was a goofy, oddball game about a good skeleton resurrected by a scientist-necromancer… or something like that.

Just as the 90s came to an end Montrose released the last of his solo albums Bearings and joined with the members of Gamma for a reunion in the early 2000s. At this time he would continue working with various musicians in recording and touring and would eventually wage war with cancer while touring.

It’s a sad end for such a talented guitarist and from all of us at Guitar-Muse we extend our condolences to the friends and family of. Rest in peace, Ronnie.


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Kyle Smitchens

Kyle Smitchens is the Guitar-Muse Managing Editor, super hero extraordinaire, and all around great guy. He has been playing guitar since his late teens and writing personal biographies almost as long. An appreciator of all music, his biggest influences include Tchaikovsky, Bach, Mozart, Beethoven, Steve Vai, Therion, and Jon Levasseur of Cryptopsy.

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