R.I.P. Ronnie Montrose

The shred-master guitarist Ronnie Montrose, the former leader of the band Montrose and one of the great technical wizards from the early days of hard rock, died on Saturday, possibly of prostate cancer. He was 64.

Montrose got his start as a session guitarist, playing on records like Van Morrison’s Tupelo Honey in 1971. The next year, he joined the Edgar Winter, getting plenty of opportunities to blaze on his instrument on that band’s massively successful LP They Only Come Out At Night. In 1973, he formed his own band Montrose, which featured a pre-solo career, pre-Van Halen Sammy Hagar on vocals. Hagar left Montrose after two albums, but Montrose himself released a number of his albums solo, with the band Montrose, and with his later band Gamma.