|Ronnie Montrose with Sammy Hagar|
Sammy Hagar recalls his final conversation with Ronnie Montrose, three years after the guitarist took his own life.
The guitarist formed his namesake outfit, Montrose, in early 1973 with Hagar, bassist Bill Church and drummer Denny Carmassi after he left the Edgar Winter Group. The band broke out with their self-titled debut, a record that featured classics like “Bad Motor Scooter,” “Rock The Nation” and “Rock Candy.”
Montrose died on March 3, 2012 from a self-inflicted gunshot wound following a five year battle with prostrate cancer.
At the Monster Energy Carolina Rebellion on May 2 to play with his latest supergroup The Circle, Hagar spoke about his attempts to regroup with his former bandmate, and receiving the news of his death.
"It was tough, man,” says Hagar. “When I got that call, it was devastating, because I just started talking to him. Me and him started talking again recently, and he was gonna come to Cabo for my birthday that year and play with the original Montrose.
“I said to him, quote-unquote, on the phone, 'Ronnie…' He was saying, 'I don't know, Hagar…' He was always accusing me of trying to do stuff for my own good. Like, 'What do you want from me?' I'm, like, 'I don't need anything from you, Ronnie. Trust me. I wanna thank you. I wanna do something for you.'”
“And he was a hard guy to get along with,” Hagar continued. “So he told me, 'Okay, I'll do it.' 'Cause he said, 'Yeah, while we're all still alive' – Bill Church, Denny Carmassi, Sammy and Ronnie. Look, I've got goosebumps. 'While we're all still alive.' And I said, 'Great!'
“And a month later, I get the phone call: 'My God, Ronnie just shot himself in the head.' Unbelievable!"
While he initiated efforts to partner with Montrose as a friend, Hagar remains puzzled at the concept of suicide.
"I don't regret anything,” he explains, “'cause I tried and I tried and I tried to be friends with him – not to put Montrose back together, but to be friends and to hang out and to have him come to my birthday bash, and have him come out on the road with me, which we did many times.
“Ronnie came out and played with us for the encore and I'd do four Montrose tunes. I'd pay him more money than he'd normally get. I loved the guy, but he was hard to get along with.
“He obviously couldn't get along with himself. I mean, you don't do that. How can a guy do that? I don't even know how someone could do that."
Six weeks after Montrose’s passing, Hagar and his Montrose bandmates were joined by special guests to perform a tribute concert in his honor; the event was issued on the 2013 DVD, “Concert For Ronnie Montrose - A Celebration of His Life In Music.”
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Search Montrose at hennemusic