Sammy Hagar, Ronnie Montrose: Singer Remembers Guitarist as ‘Full of Fire’
Toward the end of his life, Ronnie Montrose was planning to reform his namesake ’70s hard rock band, Montrose, and perform in Cabo, Mexico, Sammy Hagar has revealed to Rolling Stone. Unfortunately, the guitarist died Saturday (March 3) of prostate of cancer, leaving Hagar — the former lead singer — to memorialize the fallen guitar great.
“I said to Ronnie, ‘Come on, man. We’re all getting old. Let’s do this again while we can,'” Hagar told the magazine. “And he was in, we were all in. On my 65th, on October 13th, I was planning on coming out with Montrose, doing the whole first album, then going in with my other band, and then bringing Chickenfoot out. I was going to try to [cover] my whole four decades for the fans that night, without nobody knowing.”
Montrose was responsible for giving Hagar his big break, enlisting the then-unknown soul singer to write some songs and front his band. The Red Rocker remains grateful, and he remembers how seeing the axeman perform changed his life.
“My opinion of him?” Hagar said. “The most high-energy guy on stage I’ve ever seen. At that time, he was completely running in circles, jumping in the air. I mean, he was just intense. And I loved it. I hadn’t come out yet, and that’s what I really wanted to be — but I didn’t have the balls.”
Hagar left the band Montrose after two albums — the first of which he calls “one of the greatest hard rock/heavy metal albums of all time” — and eventually joined Van Halen, a group he says learned a lot from Montrose.
“Eddie [Van Halen] had a totally new twist on the whole guitar style thing, but as far as the chording goes — not his soloing as much as the chording — yeah, he took some of that big open chord thing [from Montrose],” Hagar said. “And of course the fire, too — Van Halen came out with all that fire, which is Ronnie. Ronnie was full of fire, man.”
Watch Sammy Hagar’s ‘Cabo Wabo Tequila Recipe’ Video