Rock Guitarist Ronnie Montrose Dies at 64

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).

Gave Sammy Hagar His Big Break: 'It's a Shame to Lose Ronnie,' Red Rocker Says

Rock guitarist Ronnie Montrose, who formed the band that bore his name and helped launch the career of Sammy Hagar, has died. His booking agent, Jim Douglas, says Montrose died Saturday at his home in Millbrae, Calif. He was 64.

Douglas says Montrose had been in declining health for some time, battling prostate cancer and what Douglas termed "personal demons."

"Ronnie Montrose gave me my first break as a songwriter, as a front man, as a recording artist, as a touring artist, and for that I will always be grateful," Hagar, who fronted Montrose in the early 1970s before launching a solo career, wrote on his website. "It's a shame to lose Ronnie and I'm so sorry for his loved ones. Rest in peace."

In addition to forming his own band in 1973, Montrose performed and recorded with a number of big names in music, including Herbie Hancock, Van Morrison, Boz Scaggs and the Edgar Winter Group. Douglas says Montrose was working on releasing a DVD and starting a tour that would have taken him across the U.S. On his website, Hagar hinted on a reunion show in Cabo Wabo, Mexico.

Montrose is survived by his wife, Leighsa, as well as a son, a daughter and five grandchildren.

The Hagar-fronted Montrose released only one album, the 1973 self-titled effort that included tracks like "Rock Candy" and "Bad Motor Scooter."