Gamma - Montrose, as we've mentioned on a number of occasions in these pages, is one of the best guitarists in the world, having worked with the likes of Edgar Winter, Boz Scaggs and Van Morrison, in addition to forming Montrose with vocalist Sammy Hagar in 1973. ( The first Montrose album, released that year, is arguably, next to Van Halen's first album, the best debut rock album of all time). Montrose the band released four albums before Montrose the man embarked on a solo career in 1977. He formed Gamma in 1979 with ex-Montrose members, bassist Alan Fitzgerald and keyboard player Jim Alcivar, vocalist Davey Pattison (who also had short stint with keyboard player Tom Coster) and Skip Gillette on drums. Their first album, excitingly titled "Gamma 1", was released on Elektra Records in 1979. For this second album, ( they no doubt took a leaf out of Chicago's book when it came to album titles!), ex- Montrose drummy Denny Carmassi and bassist Glen Letsch replaced Gillette and Fitzgerald respectively, and the album was markedly heavier than its predecessor. They toured the US extensively and also visited Europe. A third album, with the innovative title of "Gamma 3", was released in 1982. This album featured the synthesizer, with Montrose's guitar buried way down in the mix. After an unsuccessful European tour supporting Foreigner, Montrose put Gamma on ice. A live album, recorded in the early eighties, was released a few years ago, but failed to capture the band at their best. Pattison went on to feature with Robin Trower, Carmassi found fame with Heart, and Montrose continued his solo career, releasing a number of excellent albums, from jazz/fusion to hard rock, and was also involved with San Fransisco band, Heathen, in the mid to late eighties. He continues to record today and recently released a great live album and a stunning acoustic album. 

  

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Biography by Whitney Z. Gomes
Although more exploratory and ambitious than his eponymous first band, incendiary guitar genius Ronnie Montrose's second group, Gamma, forever dwelt in the shadow of the landmark Montrose debut. In the early '70s, Ronnie Montrose left Colorado for California, and became known for his session work with Van Morrison and Boz Scaggs. He then rose to fame as Edgar Winter's axeman on the legendary They Only Come Out at Night.

Wanting to call his own shots, Ronnie Montrose turned down an invitation from Mott the Hoople and brought together Montrose. The self-titled debut remains a metal masterpiece, featuring a young Sammy Hagar belting out sizzlers like "Bad Motor Scooter," "Space Station No. 5," and "Rock the Nation." Hardly an overnight success,Montrose subtly set a standard that many hard rock bands, particularly Van Halen, would strive to achieve. But Hagar was fired after the disjointed sophomore effort, Paper Money, and the band slowly disintegrated while still squeezing out two more meandering LPs. Open Fire was credited solely to Ronnie Montrose, and the guitarist became a hired gun again (playing the "agony of defeat" solo in the Wide World of Sports theme).

He then formed Gamma in 1979, reuniting with latter-Montrose personnel Jim Alcivar (keyboards) and pre-Night Ranger Alan Fitzgerald (bass), plus Davey Pattison on vocals and Skip Gillette on drums. Numerous lineup changes began immediately with the first record, the imaginatively titled Gamma 1, as another old bandmate, Denny Carmassi, replaced Gillette and Glenn Letsch took over bass duties. "Voyager" off Gamma 2 made some waves, and the band toured America and Europe. Mitchell Froom (late of Bruzer) replaced Alcivar for the keyboard-focused Gamma 3, another intriguing record, with "No Destination" and especially "Right the First Time" garnering some FM airtime.

Ronnie Montrose abruptly ditched the band mid-tour with Foreigner. Fed up with label pressures, the guitarist now keeps a low profile, periodically recording or producing, though he reunited the original Montrose briefly. Carmassi joined Heart in time for the Wilson sisters' '80s revival, and also drummed for Coverdale/Page. 

 

Ronnie Montrose
Genya Ravan
Jim Alcivar
Denny Carmassi
Alan Fitzgerald
Mitchell Froom
Skip Gillette
Glenn Letsch
Davey Pattison

Hughes/Thrall
Rush Hour

If you have any contribution to make to this band or something to add, email me - Japie Marais.

 

 

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Gamma - 1979 - Gamma 1 - 3/5

Gamma - 1980 - Gamma 2 - 3/5

Gamma - 1982 - Gamma 3 - 3/5

Gamma - 2000 - Permanent - 4/5

Gamma - 2005 - Gamma 4 - 3/5

Rating

 

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