Gone But Not Forgotten: Music Stars We Lost in 2012
RONNIE MONTROSE
November 29, 1947 - March 3, 2012 (Age 65)
Rock guitarist who formed the band that bore his name and helped launch the career of Sammy Hagar. Montrose is pictured here (at left) with Hagar (at right).

The Mar. 3 death of Ronnie Montrose, the famed rock guitarist who helped launch Sammy Hagar's career, has been ruled a suicide.

According to Guitar Player, the San Mateo County Coroner's Office reported on Apr. 6 that the 64-year-old died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound, and the guitarist's family has since confirmed the circumstances of his death.

"By now, the devastating truth of Ronnie's death is public knowledge," reads a statement from Montrose's family on his official website. "We hope you can understand why we wanted to keep this news a private family matter for as long as possible. We can only hope that you will choose to celebrate Ronnie's life, and what his music meant to you, rather than mourn his passing. Ronnie would have wanted it that way. He loved being a guitarist, a composer, a producer, and a creator of magic. He fully understood his gifts, and yet he constantly pushed himself to evolve, improve, and make better music. He did this for himself, and he did this for you, because he adored and appreciated his fans. Please keep his energy, his joy, and his love in your hearts."

Montrose reportedly battled clinical depression for much of his life, and booking agent Jim Douglas said that the guitarist was dealing with "personal demons" when confirming the death last month. A toxicology report found that Montrose's blood-alcohol level was at 0.31% at the time of his death, but no other drugs were found in his system.

Along with forming the band Montrose in 1973, Montrose performed and recorded with artists like Van Morrison, Boz Scaggs and Herbie Hancock, among others. Sammy Hagar, who would later front Van Halen, made his recording debut as a vocalist on 1973's "Montrose."