Musicians pay tribute to late Ronnie Montrose


Montrose was at the Uptown Theatre in Napa just five weeks before his death. He was one of rock guitar's most influential players.

"Very strong rhythm player, strong lead player, he was really well thought out," said Neal Schon, a Journey guitarist.

Schon is one of dozens of musicians coming together to celebrate Montrose's life in concert Friday night in the Regency Ballroom.

"Ronnie was one of those people who influenced a lot and he was the originator and architect of a lot of guitar riffs you see, reintroduced with many, many bands since," said Ricky Phillips, the Styx bass guitarist.

"I listened to Ronnie's stuff and then I tried to put my own spin on it," said Schon.

After playing with Boz Scaggs and Edgar Winter, Ronnie formed his own band in 1973. There had not been anything like Montrose. They were America's first heavy metal band with a singer named Sammy Hagar.

Sammy and the original Montrose band will reunite at the Friday celebration. Former Journey drummer Steve Smith toured with Ronnie in 1978.

Smith: We did three months of touring with Journey, as the opening act for Journey, and that's how we met Neal.
Schon: Then we got a hold of him and messed him all up.

They're rehearsing at the legendary Record Plant in Sausalito where some of Rock 'n Roll's greatest albums were recorded and it was a place where Montrose liked to hang out.

"The only time I ever recorded here was with Ronnie Montrose," said Phillips.

It's like he is still here. Before the Montrose reunion his wife will be presented with a newly-restored Bammy Award. It will always be about his music and that is something we can never lose.

A portion of the proceeds will benefit the Ronnie Montrose Fund for Bay Area musicians, but the show is sold out.

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