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Sammy Hagar Declares Ronnie Montrose ‘a Pioneer of Hard Rock’

Sammy Hagar
Frazer Harrison, Getty Images

Sammy Hagar has spoken out, this time at more length, about Ronnie Montrose, who died on Saturday, March 3, at the age of 64. Hagar had issued a statement immediately following the news that his former bandmate had passed away, but expounded on his thoughts and feelings a few days later.

The two teamed up in the early ’70s rock band Montrose, and the Red Rocker credited his late cohort with giving him his first break. That’s a dynamic common to many legendary musical collaborations and partnerships.

Hagar pretty much offered up a eulogy to Montrose in Rolling Stone. His thoughts are touching and from the heart, recalling how his lack of experience didn’t stop the guitarist from taking a chance on him and getting him to sing. He also shared the fact that upon seeing how confidently Ronnie played guitar with the Edgar Winter Group, he knew that was how he wanted to sing and play guitar.

The Chickenfoot singer also revealed that the “other” band he was in, Van Halen, which just so happened to feature the guitarist’s last name as the group’s moniker as well, had much respect and admiration for Montrose, and in fact modeled their debut album on Montrose’s self-titled effort.

Most importantly, though, Hagar claimed that he wants Ronnie Montrose to be remembered as a pioneer in this genre of music. Well said, Sammy. Well said.

Below is the conclusion of Hagar’s statement:

[I would like Montrose to be remembered] as one of the pioneers of American heavy/hard rock. And certainly, one of the great hard rock guitar players. But he was more than that – he was really versatile. But if you’re going to remember him for anything, put on that first Montrose record.
The only positive I can grab onto is the fact that the music will live on. It’s a shame to lose Ronnie and I’m so sorry for his loved ones. Rest in peace.

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