Ronnie Montrose, who founded the band Montrose along with Sammy Hagar, passed away Saturday, March 3, at the age of 64.

Although an exact cause of death has yet to be officially announced, Montrose has been battling prostate cancer in recent years. A 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.

Before forming Montrose with Hagar in 1973, Ronnie was featured on Van Morrison’s landmark 1971 album ‘Tupelo Honey’ and was a member of the Edgar Winter Group. Montrose released two albums with Hagar -- 1973′s ‘Montrose’ and 1974′s ‘Paper Money’ -- before Hagar left to pursue a solo career and eventually joined Van Halen.

As a band, Montrose later put out three more albums, and Ronnie himself released nine discs as a solo artist and four records with the group Gamma.

We'll have more details throughout the day about this tragic loss to the rock community.

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