Skip to main content

Slash, Dave Ellefson React to Death of Guitarist Ronnie Montrose

American rock guitarist Ronnie Montrose died Saturday, March 3, after a lengthy battle with prostate cancer. He was 64.

The following message was posted on Montrose's official website Saturday:

"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."

Several rock luminaries -- from Slash to Megadeth's Dave Ellefson -- have posted their reactions to the death of the legendary guitarist.

SLASH: "Myles just told me Ronnie Montrose passed. Fn' shame. Montrose is one of the all-time great [rock and roll] albums. Major influence. RIP, man."

DAVE ELLEFSON: "RIP Ronnie Montrose!!! So sad to hear of this today. I had the pleasure of playing bass for him circa 2005-07. Such a powerhouse human being and ferocious guitarist. I learned a lot from him! God's peace."

GLENN HUGHES: "Just heard that my good friend Ronnie Montrose has passed away. I'm speechless. RIP, my brother...you will be missed at the Hughes'."

KIP WINGER: "I had the pleasure of working with Ronnie not too long ago. He was a real gem, very giving and very talented. A great loss to the world. RIP, Ronnie."

Montrose led his own bands -- including Montrose, which he formed in 1973 with Sammy Hagar -- and performed or recorded with Hagar, Herbie Hancock, Van Morrison, The Beau Brummels, Boz Scaggs, Gary Wright, Tony Williams, The Neville Brothers, Edgar Winter, Johnny Winter and others.

Montrose's talents first gained the attention of Van Morrison, who hired him to play on his 1971 album, Tupelo Honey. He briefly joined the Edgar Winter Group before forming Montrose with the then-unknown Hagar. He later formed another band, Gamma, which released albums from 1979 to 2000. In 2009, he revealed he was battling prostate cancer.

In a September 2011 interview with North County Times, Montrose said he didn't pick up his guitar for two years following his diagnosis. "I had prostate cancer that, for me, was debilitating," he said. "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. I've blocked all my health issues out of my mind. That's a portion of my life that I'm done with. Now, I can't wait for every day to come so I can wake up and plug in. I'm up there entertaining myself and my playing is stronger than ever, because my excitement is back."

Montrose was born November 29, 1947.

Josh Hart contributed to this report.

Thank you for reading 5 articles this month*

Join now for unlimited access

US pricing $3.99 per month or $39.00 per year

UK pricing £2.99 per month or £29.00 per year 

Europe pricing €3.49 per month or €34.00 per year

*Read 5 free articles per month without a subscription

Join now for unlimited access

Prices from £2.99/$3.99/€3.49

Damian Fanelli
Damian Fanelli

Damian is Editor-in-Chief of Guitar World magazine. In past lives, he was GW’s managing editor and online managing editor, and his non-Pulitzer-Prize-winning stories have appeared in Guitar Aficionado, Vintage Guitar, Total Guitar and countless other publications, including 13.7 metric tons of daily newspapers. He's written liner notes for major-label releases, including Stevie Ray Vaughan's 'The Complete Epic Recordings Collection' (Sony Legacy) and has interviewed everyone from Yngwie Malmsteen to Kevin Bacon (with a few memorable Eric Clapton and Ty Tabor chats thrown into the mix). Damian, a former member of Brooklyn's The Gas House Gorillas, was the sole guitarist in Mister Neutron, a trio that toured the U.S. and released three albums (one of which appears in the 2015 Disney film 'Tomorrowland' starring George Clooney and Britt Robertson). He's in two NYC-area bands and plays Teles with four-way switches, B-benders and semi-snazzy aftermarket pickups. He quotes Terry-Thomas twice daily.