Ronnie Montrose, guitarist and founder of the rock band Montrose, died on Saturday, March 3, 2012, after a five-year battle with prostate cancer. He was 64.
The news of his death was announced on the Ronnie Montrose official website. You can read the official statement here below.
The band Montrose is best know for its time with former frontman Sammy Hagar, who went on to achieve great fame and fortune with Van Halen. Hagar wrote a lot about his years in Montrose and his collaboration with Ronnie Montrose in his 2011 autobiography Red: My Uncensored Life in Rock. With Hagar, who appeared on the first two albums – Montrose and Paper Money, the band had its greatest success with songs like “Rock Candy,” “Rock The Nation,” and “Bad Motor Scooter.”
Before starting his own band Montrose in 1973, the guitarist was also part of Edgar Winter Group, and later was in Gamma and put out several solo records, his latest being 1999’s Bearings. When not performing as part of a band or solo act, Montrose did a lot of session work with the likes of Van Morrison, Boz Scaggs, The Neville Brothers, and many more.
In 2009, Montrose announced that he had beaten the prostate cancer he’d been battling for two years. In a 2011 interview, he revealed that he hadn’t played his guitar for two years after the diagnosis and that the cancer had been “debilitating” for him. But once he was near the end of his recovery, he went back to it.
“I didn’t touch a guitar for two years, but when I realized I was seeing the light at the end of the recovery tunnel and was going to live pain-free, I realized again that it was a fun little instrument to play.”
While the official website doesn’t expressly state that Montrose died from prostate cancer, it does mention his long battle with the disease. Here’s the announcement of his death from the official Ronnie Montrose 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.
RIP – Ronnie Montrose
November 29, 1947 – March 3, 2012
Montrose with Sammy Hagar in 1974 – “Bad Motor Scooter”