It is with great sadness that I report that Ronnie Montrose passed away yesterday, March 3, 2012. He had been battling cancer for years, and it is believed he finally succumbed to the disease. My friend, Jeff Aragaki called me this morning to report the news. He and Ronnie had formed both a business and personal friendship last year, as Ronnie was going to be using Aracom Amps (he was introduced to them through “Mean” Gene Baker of Baker Guitars, with whom Jeff is good friends. He even had Jeff build him a prototype pre-amp to take with him on the road to plug into back-line amps so he could take his tone with him.
According to Jeff, Ronnie was one of the most down-to-earth people he’d ever met. None of this rock star ego, Ronnie was easy to talk to and very humble, considering his contribution to rock and roll.
For those of you who are unfamiliar with Ronnie Montrose, his group was Sammy Hagar’s first big gig. Ronnie wrote classic songs (which Sammy made popular), such as “Rock Candy” and “Bad Motor Scooter.” His guitar playing was phenomenal and his tone was unique.
A few years ago, listened to an interview Ronnie did with Greg Kihn, where Ronnie was remarking on Greg’s comment about him having a very distinctive tone. He talked about sitting in a studio with Santana, and messing around with Santana’s guitar, and how even with Santana’s gear, he sounded like Ronnie Montrose. Apparently, Santana was pretty impressed. But Ronnie was just a humble and unassuming dude and took the praise in stride.
I was hoping to tag along with Jeff when Ronnie was to play next at a local club in a couple of weeks in hopes of doing an interview for this blog. Sadly, that’s not going to happen. Though he never made huge after the 70’s, his had a huge influence on rock and roll, and he will without doubt be missed by those who knew and knew of him. Rest in peace, Ronnie!