Former VAN HALEN and current CHICKENFOOT singer Sammy Hagar has commented on the passing of his former bandmate Ronnie Montrose (MONTROSE, GAMMA), who died on Saturday (March 3) after a five-year battle with prostate cancer. He was 64 years old.
Said Hagar in a statement posted on his official web site: “Ronnie Montrose gave me my first break as a songwriter, as a frontman, 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.”
Born in Denver, Colorado, Montrose‘s first break when he played Van Morrison‘s classic 1971 album, “Tupelo Honey“. He also appeared on recordings by Boz Scaggs and the EDGAR WINTER GROUP (1972‘s “They Only Come Out At Night“) before going solo under the MONTROSE moniker in 1973 (with a very young Sammy Hagar on vocals). The MONTROSE band released two albums, “Montrose” and “Paper Money“, before Hagar left to pursue a solo career. Montrose continued to release albums with the MONTROSE band, but focused his attention mostly on his solo career as well as his other band, GAMMA, which released four albums between 1979 and 2000.
After being diagnosed with cancer in 2007, Montrose took some time off from playing and performing to focus on his health.