Iconic rock guitarist Ronnie Montrose has died after a long battle with prostate cancer. He was 64 years old. Born in Denver, Colo., on Nov. 29, 1947, Montrose passed away on March 3. He was first diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2007.
A note on Montrose’s official website announced the 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. 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.”
Rock and metal musicians are responding to the news of Montrose’s passing. Alter Bridge vocalist Myles Kennedy paid his respects via Twitter early Sunday morning (March 4): “Sad to hear Ronnie Montrose passed away. Rock Candy was one of the first songs I ever learned.” Slash Tweeted his thoughts, after Kennedy told him the news: “Myles just told me Ronnie Montrose passed. fn’ shame. “Montrose” is one of the all time great R&R albums. Major influence. RIP man. IiiI; )’”
Nonpoint also shared their sentiments via Twitter: “Another legend gone Rest In Peace Ronnie Montrose.” Ozzy Osbourne guitarist Gus G. Tweeted, “R.I.P. Ronnie Montrose.” Eddie Trunk sent out his thoughts via Twitter, “Woke 2 very sad news Ronnie Montrose has passed away from cancer at 64. He created one of the all time landmark hard rock albums w/ debut LP… Also liked Gamma, but nothing touches the debut album, a masterpiece that influenced SO many rock & metal bands! RIP Ronnie Montrose.”
Montrose started out professionally as a session player with Van Morrison, appearing on the 1971 album “Tupelo Honey.” He went on to join the Edgar Winter Band for the classic “They Only Come out at Night” album, which brought “Frankenstein” and “Free Ride.” He formed Montrose in 1973, and after trying out a young Eddie Money to serve as lead singer, he tapped an unknown talent named Sammy Hagar to front the band. Hagar recorded two albums with Montrose for two records before going solo and eventually becoming a member of Van Halen.