On March 3, the music world grieved over the loss of one of the greats, guitarist Ronnie Montrose, who formed the influential hard-rock band Montrose with Sammy Hagar in the early ’70s. At the time of his death, based on his medical history and the posting on his website, fans and critics speculated that his death had been caused by his previous bout with prostate cancer, but the true cause of death was never confirmed.
Now, a month later, his death has been ruled a suicide. According to an article on GuitarPlayer.com, Montrose suffered with clinical depression from an early age and according to his wife and manager Leighsa, that depression haunted him throughout his life.
“Ronnie had a very difficult childhood, which caused him to have extremely deep and damaging feelings of inadequacy,” Leighsa stated. “This is why he always drove himself so hard. He never thought he was good enough. He always feared he’d be exposed as a fraud. So he was exacting in his self criticism, and the expectations he put upon himself were tremendous. Now I see that perhaps he didn’t want to carry these burdens for very much longer.”
On April 6, the San Mateo County Coroner’s Office released the report on Montrose, confirming that he died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound. In addition, his toxicology report showed his blood-alcohol level at almost four times the legal limit.
Leighsa divulged that the death of his uncle and a family pet within weeks of each other in January 2012 likely drove Montrose to the state he reached, tapping into his depression. His wife recalled the final texts she received from Montrose, who said, “I have the .38 in my hand and am ready to go.” Assuming he was speaking metaphorically, Leighsa wasn’t worried, until she received the next text that said, “I’m so sorry. Still have the gun in my hand. I’m going on that voyage. I love you beyond measure,’ in a worried state she hurried home, when she received the final text from Montrose that said, “I can’t. I’ve got the gun to my head.”
Leighsa rushed home to find Montrose passed away in his favorite recliner with the gun in his hand and the cell phone near his feet.
His family took to his website to post the following message:
By now, the devastating truth of Ronnie’s death is public knowledge. We hope you can understand why we wanted to keep this news a private family matter for as long as possible. We can only hope that you will choose to celebrate Ronnie’s life, and what his music meant to you, rather than mourn his passing. Ronnie would have wanted it that way. He loved being a guitarist, a composer, a producer, and a creator of magic. He fully understood his gifts, and yet he constantly pushed himself to evolve, improve, and make better music. He did this for himself, and he did this for you, because he adored and appreciated his fans. Please keep his energy, his joy, and his love in your hearts.
Please note that there will be no more statements from the Montrose family at this time. We ask that you respect the family’s privacy.
Our thoughts and prayers go out to Leighsa and the rest of the Montrose family during this difficult time.