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Ronnie Montrose: Death Ruled a Suicide

Ronnie Montrose

According to the carefully worded statement Ronnie Montrose‘s family released following his death in March, the guitarist “chose his own exit the way he chose his own life.” Now, we know what that means: The rocker committed suicide — a revelation contained in an April 6 police report and confirmed on Montrose’s website.

As friend Michael Molenda explains in a story for Guitar Player, Montrose’s death wasn’t the result of prostate cancer, as many originally believed. Rather, the 64-year-old succumbed to clinical depression, something that “plagued him since he was a toddler.” He evidently died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound, and toxicology reports show that his blood-alcohol level was 0.31 percent, nearly four times the legal limit in California.

“By now, the devastating truth of Ronnie’s death is public knowledge,” reads a statement from the family on Ronnie’s 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.”

Montrose’s wife and manager, Leighsa, told Molenda that her husband — a renowned guitarist whose namesake band launched the career of Sammy Hagar and released a series of acclaimed ’70s-era albums — wrestled with “deep and damaging feelings of inadequacy.” Even so, she says, 2012 was shaping up to be a good year, and among other things, the guitarist was anticipating reuniting with Montrose for Hagar’s birthday.

“He was so looking forward to all the possibilities before him,” said Leighsa.

Check Out Our Underrated Guitarists From the ’70s Gallery

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Watch Montrose’s “Bad Motor Scooter (Live)” Video

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