R.I.P. Ronnie Montrose…

…sad day for rock and or roll.

It was announced yesterday, March 3rd, that Ronnie Montrose had died after a five-year battle with prostate cancer, aged 64.

The first Montrose album is one of my favourites. It a classic hard rock album. A must have. Which took me an age to get my hands on. Being a huge fan of Van Halen I’d heard about this blueprint for their ’78 début album. Singer, axe-slinger, bass & drums produced by Ted Templeman recorded a few years earlier.

And after Sammy Hagar who was the singer on that album joined Van Halen I searched out his back catalogue, got a number of his solo records, including a single of his solo track “This Planet’s On Fire (Burn In Hell)” on which the B-side was a live version of “Space Station #5″ – first pick you see in the video on the right. Then picked up a 45 single of Montrose’s “Bad Motor Scooter” – which was backed by the track “I Don’t Want It”. I wanted that album. But as it was recorded in 1973 and this was the late 80s and getting old rock albums wasn’t an easy thing. No interweb, just second hand record shops and record fairs.

Then one lucky Sunday I stumped up at a record fair, a few miles away, and started flicking through the first box of vinyl I came to and there it was. Think it cost me about two quid, maybe three fifty, whatever it was it made trip really worth it.

“Rock the Nation”, “Bad Motor Scooter”, “Space Station #5″, “I Don’t Want It”, “Good Rockin’ Tonight”, “Rock Candy”, “One Thing on My Mind”, “Make It Last”. They all rocked and still do. Ronnie was a hell of a guitar player. Little later it came in 4th on the “Kerrang! 100 Greatest Heavy Metal Albums Of All Time“, behind Van Halen’s début which came second.

Played the hell out of that album and of course my search started for the follow up “Paper Money”. Unfortunately they’d changed direction. It didn’t rock. It disappointed. Only decent track was “I Got The Fire” – which I heard previously covered by Iron Maiden as a single B-side, giving me false hope on the album.

OK so I’ve glossed over the rest of Ronnie’s career from Van Morrison and Edgar Winter through his post Hagar solo work, Gamma and all the session work. But that’s only because that first Montrose album was.. is so damn good it’s what should be remembered on a sad occasion.

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