Guitarist Ronnie Montrose dies at 64
March 5th, 2012
10:18 AM ET

Guitarist Ronnie Montrose dies at 64

At the age of 64, rock guitarist Ronnie Montrose died Saturday in his California home, Montrose's booking agent tells CNN.

The musician had been struggling with prostate cancer "for a number of years."

Montrose's son says in a statement that just a few months prior, "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."

Montrose, his son continues, "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."

The guitarist played with a variety of artists during his lengthy career, but most famously with his group Montrose. The band's first album, "Montrose," provided hits such as "Rock Candy," "Bad Motor Scooter" and "Rock the Nation."

There's the possibility that a tribute concert could be held in his honor, but that's a decision to be made by Montrose's widow, Lisa, his agent says.


soundoff (72 Responses)
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    July 20, 2012 at 7:00 pm | Report abuse |
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    April 15, 2012 at 10:06 am | Report abuse |
  6. DDS

    li'm listening to Montrose and appreciating the masterfullness this guy layed down!! Ronnie, you are one bad ass axe- weilder!!! peace my bro!!! i know Sam misses you!!

    April 3, 2012 at 3:18 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Beth

    A great loss to the music world. We will miss you Ronnie!

    March 16, 2012 at 2:47 pm | Report abuse |
  8. shahnawaz

    Ronnie I love you , you are my guitar hero, I love rock beauce of you. thanks for all the great song and show and great memory.. I listen to your music every day... may you rest in peace

    March 7, 2012 at 4:07 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Mark

    Rock on, Ronnie. Rest in peace. Condolences to his family and fans.

    March 6, 2012 at 10:43 am | Report abuse |
  10. Gman26

    Your like candy baby....Hot Sweet & Sticky. If you didn't have this first album it wasn't cool man! I think I'll dig this album out now. You will be sadly missed Ronnie.

    March 6, 2012 at 10:31 am | Report abuse |
  11. Joe

    Such a loss. What great memories of Montrose and my teenage years. I think I will dust off the cassette deck and put in my Montrose cassette and Rock the Nation just one more time.

    March 6, 2012 at 10:19 am | Report abuse |
  12. Whatever

    Ronnie who?

    March 6, 2012 at 9:52 am | Report abuse |
  13. Ben Trexel

    Saw him several times, '76 with Montrose opening for Robin Trower, '78 opening for Van Halen and Journey. Very influential on me especially with the first album. Rock The Nation!!!!

    March 6, 2012 at 8:36 am | Report abuse |
  14. maf5454

    Rest in peace my brother, you earned it! You will be missed, every time I look at a pretty girl I hum, "But you're rock candy baby Hard, sweet and sticky".
    Rock the nation brothers and sisters.

    March 6, 2012 at 8:22 am | Report abuse |
  15. geezer

    Take his cue and Jump on It!

    March 6, 2012 at 7:53 am | Report abuse |
  16. Daniel

    Denny Carmassi (drums), Bill Church (bass), RONNIE MONTROSE (guitar), Sammy Hagar (vocals).
    Thanks Montrose you made my childhood happy, shared my hardships and made me grown in a man that I am today ... Cheers from Brazil

    March 6, 2012 at 3:23 am | Report abuse |
    • GREG

      Could not have said it better! saw them in '74 and just a couple years ago at a little bar. standing front and center,ronnie montrose made me believe in time travel. I mourn his loss...RIP,bro

      March 6, 2012 at 9:01 pm | Report abuse |
  17. drp146

    The world is a sadder place whenever a great musician dies. The guy could damn sure play guitar.

    March 6, 2012 at 1:48 am | Report abuse |
  18. TrulyFeral

    Thanks for the music Ronnie. Hope to hear you on the other side.

    March 5, 2012 at 11:46 pm | Report abuse |
  19. Don Jones

    :'( Too many, too young.

    March 5, 2012 at 11:24 pm | Report abuse |
  20. .•|•.

    Oh what a bummer. If there's a rock & roll heaven,Ronnie, your there. RIP.

    March 5, 2012 at 10:32 pm | Report abuse |
  21. Jim

    Man! I still want to "throw my head back and shout" whenever I hear the open riff of Rock The Nation! What a great summer that was. Thanks Ronnie, and of course, Sammie.

    March 5, 2012 at 8:31 pm | Report abuse |
  22. Renee

    Anyone remember those awesome shows at the Old Waldorf, SF with Gamma and a hot new band called Nightranger? It was supposed to be Red Ryder opening for Gamma. Wow!

    March 5, 2012 at 7:50 pm | Report abuse |
  23. Jim in PA

    Oh man, one of the guitar greats of the 70s. I just recently (last couple of years) saw Robin Trower and Pat Travers play at a couple of clubs and they were fantastic also. Age didn't put a dent in the playing for these guys! RIP Ronnie. On a positive note, I am thrilled to see CNN pay tribute on their front page.

    March 5, 2012 at 6:37 pm | Report abuse |
  24. Gamma 1

    Still have my Montrose 8 Track. Sadly missed. The Razor King rocks in paradise now !!

    March 5, 2012 at 6:13 pm | Report abuse |
    • Hitesh

      Melissa Chambers – They are great, I love them! Thanks for captioning our day so lptfecrey, we couldn't of ask for anything or anyone better than you! Thanks again.July 10, 2010 7:38 pm

      March 17, 2012 at 2:20 am | Report abuse |
  25. Thatguy371

    Kind of surprised that CNN would publish this article, shows the level of popularity for such a well respected and talented guitarist. R.I.P. Ronnie Montrose, one of the very best guitarists ever.

    March 5, 2012 at 5:58 pm | Report abuse |
  26. speedhump

    what a loss one of the most versatile players ever from Van Morrison, Edger Winter, to the many incarnations of Montrose to Gamma and all those great solo albums he could play ant style he felt like. I am listening to wish I was by Gamma feels right check it out. Ronnie should defiantly get a headline.

    March 5, 2012 at 4:59 pm | Report abuse |
  27. SouthGeorgiaGal

    He was one of the greats. My favorite of his was "Space Age Sacrifice"! It still rocks today.

    March 5, 2012 at 4:50 pm | Report abuse |
    • jay

      i agree

      March 6, 2012 at 12:46 am | Report abuse |
    • Ignace

      I wonder how big his dumps are?  I mean, I know his body is using most of his food's ttnrienus due to his heightened anabolic state, but these pro-bodybuilders are taking in like 6,000+ calories a day.

      March 17, 2012 at 12:45 am | Report abuse |
  28. Oldsalt57

    Gol dammit man, Rockin' Ronnie can't be dead. Who's goin' Rock our Nation now?
    RIP Ronnie, thanks for the great music.

    March 5, 2012 at 4:32 pm | Report abuse |
  29. Lukester

    Didn't he do a lot of work with Gary Wright...Dreamweaver collection?

    March 5, 2012 at 4:20 pm | Report abuse |
  30. erich2112x

    Feel good song of the century = "Rock The Nation".

    March 5, 2012 at 4:10 pm | Report abuse |
  31. timmyindenver

    It's sad that we are losing guitarists referred to as legendary. That era seems to have stopped and replaced by autotuned vocals. Long live the guitar solo.

    March 5, 2012 at 3:19 pm | Report abuse |
    • jay

      after the recent loss of gary moore and now ronnie montrose i feel fortunate to have discovered joe bonamassa.

      March 6, 2012 at 12:51 am | Report abuse |
    • derp

      Joe B is the real deal. His version of Tea for One is a work of art.

      March 6, 2012 at 10:55 am | Report abuse |
  32. mikebo

    Didn't you love to listen to people who actually had talent?Not in todays garbage.Rock n roll heaven just added a new member.

    March 5, 2012 at 2:36 pm | Report abuse |
  33. Marie

    "Wish I Was"...one of the songs from his Gamma days and still after all these years my #1 song of all time. Ronnie Montrose was among my favorite guitarists. He will be very missed.

    March 5, 2012 at 2:23 pm | Report abuse |
  34. JC

    What a loss! He was an amazing guitarist. Those first two Montrose albums with Sammy were rock classics.

    March 5, 2012 at 2:14 pm | Report abuse |
  35. Old Man

    What mens college dorm room wasn't blasting 'Space Station #5' on football Saturdays?

    March 5, 2012 at 2:13 pm | Report abuse |
  36. caseylew

    I have seen thousands of bands over the years, Montrose (with Sammy Hagar) was the first. In 76 at the age of 14 they opened a triple bill with Foghat and Black Oak Arkansas. Tix were $5.50.

    March 5, 2012 at 1:57 pm | Report abuse |
    • Rookie43

      I believe I saw the same line up of bands in 76. It was in Springfield IL. But if you check, Sammy had already left Montrose.

      March 5, 2012 at 5:28 pm | Report abuse |
    • OverEd

      Dude RIP. Wicked awsome debut album. But can't help but say 1976- RFK Stadium – Ted Nugent, Nazereth, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Aerosmith – $8.50.

      March 5, 2012 at 11:00 pm | Report abuse |
    • steelers1981

      In order for you to have seen "thousands of bands" you would have to see more than one different (repeats would not count) band every single week since 1976.

      March 6, 2012 at 8:56 am | Report abuse |
  37. Johnny

    I got to meet Ronnie in 2006 on a Cabo Wabo Cruise Sammy Hagar put together. Ronnie was on the ship and hung out and took pictures with everyone. He was a very nice guy. He played a few shows on the boat, and did some Q&A's, then played with Sammy when we docked in Cabo. I got to see him play a few shows over the years. Definitly in my top 5 guitarists. Whenwe are on the cruise with him he told us all he had a cd coming out called "10×10" it was 10 songs with a different singer on each song. All I remember is he did a song with Sammy Hagar, and one with Edgar Winter. I hope one day that sees a release date.

    March 5, 2012 at 1:52 pm | Report abuse |
  38. gayla

    Condolences to his family and close friends. God Bless.

    March 5, 2012 at 1:46 pm | Report abuse |
  39. derp

    With all the crap so called "musicians" that grace this message board, it is a shame that the only mention of someone this talented is when they die. RIP Ronnie.

    March 5, 2012 at 1:24 pm | Report abuse |
  40. Beautiful Vixen

    I desrve a headline to. Butt no your just not nice to me.

    March 5, 2012 at 1:09 pm | Report abuse |
    • mizh

      What are you trying to say there? Maybe you should learn to spell first before attempting a comment?

      March 6, 2012 at 10:01 am | Report abuse |
  41. ks

    Wow! What a loss. Yes, he should get a higher headline, I agree. Many artists owe their sucess to Ronnie. I had the pleasure of meeting him. What a wonderful person, down to earth. I hope he and DIO are up there jamming. BIG loss to the music world.

    March 5, 2012 at 1:01 pm | Report abuse |
  42. Sean

    Very sad to learn this news... great guitarist! I've been a fan since I heard Space Station #5 during my college days back in the mid-eighties... I've seen many, many concerts over the years but never was able to see Ronnie live... then just weeks ago, I saw his Spring tour was bringing him through Syracuse, NY on May 19th... that was the night I was finally going to get to see Montrose live... but now I guess I'll have to wait for a double bill of Ronnie and Jimi at my next destination... my thoughts go out to his family and friends, may you RIP Ronnie!

    March 5, 2012 at 12:53 pm | Report abuse |
    • jay

      i,m sorry to tell you this but if you like this music as much as i do you missed one truly unforgettable experience.heard the first montrose album on a class retreat as a freshman in high school in 73.i actually did,nt like it at first because it was so different but i grew to like it so much that i got a lightning bolt tattood on my chest.i finally got to see ronnie several years after the break up at biddy mulligans in chicago.the place was packed and the show was electrifying.i will never forget it.after a disappointing show at park west several years ago i was lucky enough to see him again a few weeks ago at reggies rock club and it was even better than i could have imagined.they played the entire first album and select cuts from the second.it was OUTSTANDING.to top the night off he was selling his own shirts on the way out and i got to briefly speak with him.he looked great and said he felt fine.i had no idea he was sick and wish i could have spent just a little more time with him.my deepest sympathy to his loved ones for this devastating loss,but i can assure you he was loved by many.

      March 5, 2012 at 11:52 pm | Report abuse |
  43. ralph

    Who's next, Robin Trower??? What a tremendous loss – Ronnie, you are irreplaceable!!!

    March 5, 2012 at 12:44 pm | Report abuse |
  44. jps

    I think his death deserves higher placement on CNN. Guess the kiddos don't remember anything that happened before 1990.

    March 5, 2012 at 12:44 pm | Report abuse |
    • stevensb

      Sad but very true ......... The first Montrose album still ranks among the best debut albums of all time . People throw the term " Guitar God " around a whole lot and in many cases in reference to mediocre players ...... Ronnie was , in every way , that and more .

      March 5, 2012 at 2:47 pm | Report abuse |
  45. Jim

    I met him in 79

    got to mention the song "Make it Last"
    Whether I'm twelve or whether I'm sixty-four

    Ronnie died today at the age of 64.

    March 5, 2012 at 12:43 pm | Report abuse |
  46. Bixster

    I saw Ronnie in Scranton during the Frankenstein tour. I was blown away by him. Mott the Hoople opened. RIP Ronnie, you're playing with Jimi now. Rock on Forever!

    March 5, 2012 at 12:20 pm | Report abuse |
  47. Loopman

    The rock guitarist that was often imitated, but never duplicated. Rest In Peace, Ronnie. You will be missed dearly.

    March 5, 2012 at 11:49 am | Report abuse |
  48. Dude

    I saw him solo in ~1989. Still an amazing musician. He will be sadly missed.

    Amongst others, Sammy Hagar got his start playing with Montrose.

    March 5, 2012 at 11:48 am | Report abuse |
  49. MDMinton

    Great guitarist, besides his own solo records, I believe he also play on Edgar Winters "They only come out at Night" including the great guitar on "Free Ride" (as well as the rest of the album) – saw him play a couple of times..great performer..

    March 5, 2012 at 11:42 am | Report abuse |
    • SpaceStation#9

      A lot of the guitar was Rick Derringer on that album......
      Saw Ronnie on the Open Fire tour with Steve Smith (later of Journey) in '78 with Van Halen (1st tour) and Journey supporting "Infinity." $8 for the show.......a lifetime of memories.

      March 5, 2012 at 1:50 pm | Report abuse |
    • Kemal

      Big congratulations you're one of two I cited as tops in a reenct article at The Writer. In my forthcoming book as well. I can't tell you how useful the information you provide to me is. I have an upgraded package, but even before that, the basic free pkg. was also useful. So again, thanks and I hope you win the top one! best, Kay B. Day

      March 14, 2012 at 9:49 pm | Report abuse |
  50. Kevin

    WOW one of my favorite musicians growing up...a loss not ever replaced. RIP RM.

    March 5, 2012 at 11:37 am | Report abuse |
  51. Hikerstud

    This is why I plan to skip the whole test and treatment and take my chances.

    March 5, 2012 at 11:31 am | Report abuse |
    • Dave

      I am sorry you feel this way a PSA test saved my life I had surgery and radiation at the age of 49 and at 57 so glad I did

      March 5, 2012 at 12:24 pm | Report abuse |
    • Edwin

      Dave is right. The PSA test saved my life. I had the surgery at 45 and am doing fine. It's a really bad way to go, but it can be prevented by detection and appropriate treatment, which is not always the surgery.

      March 5, 2012 at 2:54 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mike

      Agree! Research is proving that prostate cancers are very slow growing and one faces much more danger from chemo, radiation or old-fashioned quackery. Virtually all men over 60 have cancerous micro-lesions on the prostate, and virtually all will die of something else before the prostate becomes a problem.

      March 6, 2012 at 4:59 am | Report abuse |
  52. blogger

    To bad dude, you were a great guitarist. RIP Ronnie.

    March 5, 2012 at 10:33 am | Report abuse |

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