Guitarist/singer Ronnie Montrose passed away on March 4, and colleagues have been paying tribute. Sammy Hagar got his break as lead singer for (the band) Montrose. In a heartfelt interview with Rolling Stone, Hagar says…

“For me Ronnie’s passing is the end of an era. Ronnie Montrose gave me my first break as a songwriter, as a front man, as a recording artist and as a touring artist, and for that I will always be grateful. The first Montrose album was the first album I ever recorded and it still stands as one of the best recordings I have ever been a part of. I wrote songs with him, but it was his trip.

“He's the guy that got me to sing with him. I had no experience whatsoever; I just wrote the first four songs in my life, which were ‘Bad Motor Scooter,’ ‘Make It Last,’ ‘One Thing on My Mind,’ and ‘I Don’t Want It,’ played them for Ronnie upon first meeting, shook my hand, and said, ‘Let’s start a band.’ I went from zero to a hundred…”

Hagar adds, “What I learned from Ronnie Montrose, I still utilize today when I step on a stage. I try to keep the energy up and the entertainment high.”

Lita Ford was a later collaborator. She says: “The day I got the call to jam with Ronnie Montrose for the NAMM 2011 [show in Anaheim, California] was a day a dream of mine came true. I loved Ronnie’s guitar riffs since I began to play the guitar. Ronnie changed the face of rock forever. No one could ever make their guitar sound like a motorcycle... not like Ronnie... not then, and still not even now!”

Watch Hagar and Montrose in 1974.