Montrose were a US hard rock outfit put together by ex-Van Morrison/Edgar Winter/Herbie Hancock session guitarist, Ronnie Montrose. Enlisting the services of two unknowns, vocalist Sammy Hagar and drummer Denny Carmassi, together with his bass playing friend, Bill Church, Ronnie Montrose formed the band in 1973. This debut album, produced by Montrose and Ted Templeman (of Van Halen fame), was essentially the first modern American hard rock album. It contained no ballads, apparently a first for the history books. Both Kiss and Aerosmith debuted the same year, but neither would be as successful until a few years later. Our featured track was given extensive airplay in the US, as were other tracks such as "Rock Candy", "Space Station # 9" and "Bad Motor Scooter", each becoming major Montrose "anthems". Montrose (the band) went on to release a further three albums, "Paper Money", "Warner Brothers Present", and "Jump on It" between ' 74 and ' 76, with various members such as bassist Alan Fitzgerald, vocalist Bob James (Hagar having left after "Paper Money" to embark on his own road to fame and fortune), and keyboard player Jim Alcivar. Montrose (the man) split the band after "Jump on It", electing to embark on a solo career. The resulting album, "Open Fire", was released in 1978. The following year, Ronnie Montrose formed the excellent Gamma, with future Robin Trower vocalist Davey Pattison, Fitzgerald, Carmassi and Alcivar. Gamma lasted for about five years and released three imaginatively titled albums, (Gamma 1, Gamma 2 and Gamma 3!). When Gamma was put on ice, Montrose revived his solo career, releasing the jazzy "Territory" album in 1986. He also involved himself in production, working with outfits such as San Francisco's Heathen. The solo albums have been coming in drips and drabs, ever since 1987's excellent "Mean" album, each being equal to, if not better than, the last. Ronnie Montrose is rightly recognized as one of rock music's most respected and greatest guitarists, and we'll continue to feature his music on The Dinosaur Days for as long as we're around. If you're not familiar with his and his band's music, an eighteen track "The Very Best of Montrose" album, recently released on Warner Archives, is an excellent introduction. The long awaited "Gamma 4" album is apparently on the way too.  
  

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Biography by Ed Rivadavia
One of the first American-bred hard rock groups to challenge British supremacy in the early '70s, Montrose is still remembered as, if not the most successful, certainly one of the most influential bands of the era. In fact, many of the personalities responsible for the group's legendary, self-titled debut (producer Ted Templeman, engineer Don Landee, vocalist Sammy Hagar) would later become instrumental players in the formative and later-day career of the mighty Van Halen. And to his credit, though he ultimately lacked the focus and leadership skills to consistently guide his band's career, guitarist Ronnie Montrose was a true original of the instrument. His superlative playing aside, the avid big game hunter lived the double-entendre guitar-playing gunslinger lifestyle long before Ted Nugent made the combination famous.

After cutting his teeth as a session musician with the likes of Van Morrison and the Edgar Winter Group, guitarist Ronnie Montrose decided to form his own, self-named band in 1973. Enlisting the help of fellow session pros Bill Church (bass), Denny Carmassi (drums), and a talented, up-and-coming Californian singer named Sammy Hagar, Montrose soon released their eponymous first album in November of that year. Although it never broke the Billboard Top 100, Montrose eventually went platinum and was arguably the first full-fledged heavy metal album by an American band (early proto-metal efforts by Blue Cheer and Steppenwolf notwithstanding). With classics like "Space Station No. 5" and "Bad Motor Scooter" leading the charge to the nation's airwaves, it is still considered one of the finest, most influential releases of the decade, to boot. But trouble was already looming, as Church quit the group soon after and was replaced by bassist/keyboard player Alan Fitzgerald for the ensuing tour. Released less than a year after their debut, the erratic Paper Money proved to be a surprisingly diverse but unfocused follow-up that failed to match its predecessor's consistency or popularity. Making things worse, escalating tensions between Montrose and Hagar soon led to the latter's departure following the Paper Money tour. He went on to an increasingly successful solo career, and, of course, eventually Van Halen.

Hagar's replacement was relative newcomer Bob James, but it was new full-time keyboardist Jim Alcivar who quickly placed his stamp on the group's appropriately titled third album Warner Bros. Presents Montrose!. Released at the tail end of 1975 and produced by Ronnie himself, its pedestrian songwriting and generally plodding, tepid sound alienated what was left of the band's remaining faithful and led to Fitzgerald's departure soon after (he later became a member of Night Ranger). New bassist Randy Jo Hobbs performed on Montrose's last-ditch effort, 1976's Jack Douglas-produced Jump on It. Also poorly received and boasting a ridiculously ill-fated album cover to match, it never had a chance and the musicians soon went their separate ways. Carmassi joined Hagar's solo band (also featuring Bill Church by then) and later played with Heart and many others. As for committed outdoorsman Ronnie Montrose, the guitarist took some time off to enjoy his other hobbies before releasing three albums with new band Gamma in the early '80s. He would finally record under the Montrose name once again for 1987's Mean, a one-off affair featuring singer Johnny Edwards (later, briefly of Foreigner), bassist Glenn Letsch, and drummer James Kottak (soon to form Kingdom Come, and eventually a member of the Scorpions).

In early 2002, Ronnie Montrose gathered bassist Chuck Wright (Quiet Riot), drummer Pat

Torpey (Mr. Big) and singer Keith St. John (Burning Rain) for a new Montrose lineup. They played West Coast dates throughout the year in support of their Rhino compilation The Very Best of Montrose. Plans for a studio album were in the works for 2003. 

 

Sammy Hagar
Ronnie Montrose
Jim Alcivar
Denny Carmassi
Bill Church
Nick DeCaro
Alan Fitzgerald
Randy Jo Hobbs
Mark T. Jordan
Bob James

Mountain
Thin Lizzy
Free
Foghat
Bad Company
Gillan
Edgar Winter
Golden Earring
Van Halen
Boston
Cactus
Steppenwolf
Whitesnake
Rainbow
Ted Nugent
Nazareth
Kiss
Grand Funk Railroad
Alice Cooper
Tommy Bolin

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Montrose - 1973 - Montrose - 4/5

Montrose - 1974 - Paper Money - 3/5

Montrose - 1975 - Warner Bros. Presents Montrose - 4/5

Montrose - 1976 - Jump on It - 3/5

Montrose - 1987 - Mean - 3/5

Montrose - 2002 - Open Fire - 2.5/5

Montrose - 2004 - Inertia - 4/5

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