The Ronnie Montrose Interview
When I met Ronnie Montrose on September 9, 2011, it was a golden opportunity to talk to someone whose music had been a strong force in my life since the 1970s. It started with the Edgar Winter Band’s “Frankenstein,” on which Montrose laid down the guitar. Then I graduated to the first Montrose album with Sammy Hagar, then Warner Bros Presents and Jump On It. I even saw Montrose twice in 1976 — opening for KISS.
Much of Montrose’s work in the 80s eluded me although I did see him perform in an Orange County club some time in 1987. When I went out to reclaim my Montrose collection on CD, I added Open Fire to the pile and it became one of my all-time favorite rock instrumental albums. In more recent years, Montrose would roll through town with a different band, but I never got a chance to catch a show. When I heard he had cancer, I thought I’d never see him again.
Montrose beat the cancer that prevented him from picking up his guitar for two years. And he got back on stage and revisited his glorious past with an appreciative audience. When I found out he was coming to the Coach House to play a show, I knew I had to check it out. As it turned out, the day got even better when I got the opportunity to interview Ronnie Montrose. I brought in some friends, and we videotaped and photographed the whole thing. Ronnie (we were now on a first-name basis) couldn’t have been more accommodating or more fun to talk to. And his set that night at the Coach House was a shredder, to say the least.
In my wildest dreams, I would never have imagined it would be the last time Montrose would play in San Juan Capistrano. And because I couldn’t get out to Corona when he rolled through there in November, and completely missed him at NAMM, that day at the Coach House was the last time I would ever lay eyes on Ronnie Montrose. The day of his passing on March 3, 2012 was a sad day in my own personal musical history. To have met and chatted with the man was an honor and a privilege; to be able to enjoy his music is something I will cherish for the rest of my life.
Video of the following interview is featured on the Official YouTube Montrose channel. Now, after getting sidetracked by various humdingers of ill repute, it is my sincere pleasure to present the complete interview, uncut and unedited, for your reading pleasure. While I wasn’t able to make it up to San Francisco for the April 27 Concert For Ronnie Montrose, featuring a long list of heavy hitters and friends, I’d like to consider this open and honest interview my own little tribute to an exceptional, legendary musician.