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Ronnie Montrose Turns 64

Montrose Montrose
Warner Brothers

Guitar hero Ronnie Montrose turns 64 years old today (Nov. 29). The influence of his band’s 1973 self-titled debut album continues to grow every year, and he’s proven to be an independently-minded musical explorer ever since.

A former session musician whose credits include Van Morrison‘s ‘Tupelo Honey’ and a stint in the Edgar Winter Group (yes, he’s on ‘Free Ride‘), Montrose formed his own band, which featured the then little-known Sammy Hagar on vocals.

Despite its awesomeness, their first record was less than a smash at the time, and the group started to unravel, with the singer leaving after one more album.

However, ‘Montrose”s impact on the group’s peers and future generations of musicians, due in no small part to Ronnie’s guitar playing and songwriting, grew significantly over time.

Songs such as ‘Rock Candy,’ ‘Space Station #5′ and ‘Bad Motor Scooter’ have become recognized as classics, with Iron Maiden covering ‘Station‘ and Hagar’s new group Chickenfoot often performing ‘Scooter‘ in concert.

Eddie Van Halen has cited the album as a big influence on his band’s sound — after all, they hired the same producer (Ted Templeman) and engineer (Don Landee) for Van Halen’s first six albums, and eventually brought in Hagar as their second singer.

After two more albums with a new singer, Montrose broke up his namesake band and formed the slightly more exotic, keyboard-incorporating Gamma. He also released several largely instrumental, sometimes jazz-influenced solo albums. He reunited with his original Montrose mates for a track on Hagar’s first post-Van Halen album (‘Leaving the Warmth of the Womb,’ from 1997′s ‘Marching to Mars’), and the group played special set-closing shows at several of the singer’s solo concerts.

He is currently touring with a new line-up of his group, and spent his birthday today discussing his long and storied career on the ‘Live from Music City‘ podcast.

Watch Montrose Perform ‘Bad Motor Scooter’

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