Guitarist Ronnie Montrose, whose band Montrose featured a pre-Van Halen Sammy Hagar, died Saturday following a battle with prostate cancer.
An unsigned statement on his official website reads, “A few months ago, we held a surprise party for Ronnie Montrose’s 64th birthday. He gave an impromptu speech, and told us that after a long life, filled with joy and hardship, he didn’t take any of our love for granted.
“He passed today. He’d battled cancer, and staved off old age for long enough. And true to form, he chose his own exit the way he chose his own life. We miss him already, but we’re glad to have shared with him while we could.”
Montrose played on Van Morrison‘s 1971 album Tupelo Honey before launching Montrose two years later, with Hagar as their lead singer. Their self-titled debut album featured songs like “Rock the Nation,” “Space Station #5″ and “Rock Candy.”
Montrose recorded one more album with Hagar, the 1974 release Paper Money, before Hagar left to pursue a solo career.
After putting out a couple of more albums with his group, Ronnie Montrose formed another band, Gamma, which released three albums in the late 1970s and early 1980s.
The original Montrose lineup reunited on Hagar’s 1997 album Marching to Mars, playing on the song “Leaving the Warmth of the Womb.”
Hagar once said he believes Montrose left a significant mark on rock and roll in the early 1970s. He said, “It was so influential because there was only Mountain, Led Zeppelin…there were just a few of those kind of bands. I mean, I’m sorry, but we fit right into that little hole.”