Sunday, March 04, 2012

On Ronnie Montrose

I haven’t written much about guitar though my screen-name is Axxman. I should fix this.

I began playing guitar in September 1978. To be honest my brother loved rock music more than I did at the time, and the evidence for this was his massive 1200 album collection. I benefitted from this by having access to just about every cool rock album there was. My own collection would grow to 500 before CDs took over. The other benefit was my brother’s to the point critiques of my playing progress, and this mostly consisted of “you suck”, “do better”, or he’d just shake his head as he walked out of the room. On the bright side he was always bringing home albums of guys he thought I should know about.

Ronnie Montrose was one of those guys.

The album was Gamma. The song which had the biggest impact was “Thunder and Lightning”. It was just a rocking song where Montrose was spotlighted. Unlike Van Halen, who is probably from another planet, Montrose’s playing was accessible -NOT EASY – but a style I could wrap my young guitarist brain around. I never fell in love with Ronnie Montrose, mostly because of his choice of questionable singers, but I always liked him.

I saw Ronnie Montrose three different times by accident. By accident means he wasn’t on the original bill when I bought the tickets. Bill Graham (his manager, and Bay Area concert promoter) would add him to the ticket later. So I saw him with Humble Pie and Ted Nugent. He opened for Blue Oyster Cult. The last time I saw him was at Oakland for a Day on the Green with Santana, Toto, and Journey.

Montrose was liked by most people he knew which speaks to his character. I just thought he’d always be around, or at least be around longer. I hope he’s happy wherever he’s gone to, I sincerely wish this for him.

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