On January 26, 0224, multiple musicians took the stage at the Grand Theater in Anaheim, California, to pay tribute to their late friend and musical hero Ronnie Montrose. While old-school classic rock fans are very familiar with the work of Ronnie Montrose and his band Montrose, there may be some who do not realize the many musical artists that used Ronnie Montrose as their secret weapon. From Van Morrison and beyond, Montrose played on countless projects as a session musician. Of course, he is best remembered for his work with his bands Monrose and Gamma and as being a key member of the Edgar Winter Group.
Tragically, Ronnie Montrose’s life was unfortunately cut short in 2012 as he succumbed to a lifelong struggle with depression. Vocalist Keith St. John, who worked with Montrose for over a decade – longer than any other musician, organized an event honoring his late bandmate called Ronnie Montrose Remembered. Participation in the concert was fueled by a group of Montrose’s past bandmates, friends, or artists who looked up to him, who came together to pay homage to and salute this rock guitar icon.
After a busy day at the NAMM Show, I made sure to attend the concert. Keith St. John took the stage giving a touching speech about his friend and longtime bandmate. He explained how the show would be a journey through the musical career that Montrose experienced throughout his life. Opening the shows was a stunning cover Van Morrison’s “Tupelo Honey,” a song which Montrose performed guitars and backing vocals on back in 1971. It was an eye-opening experience to see just how many different genres and styles this artist was able to capture and make his own throughout the several decades he was creating music.
Former bandmates of Montrose, like bassist David Ellefson and bassist Sean McNabb, and others, joined artists like Phil Demmel of MachineHead, Joel Hoekstra of Whitesnake, Martin Motnik of Accept, Dave Amato of REO Speedwagon, and more to honor the inimitable Ronnie Montrose. Unsurprisingly, much of the show showcased the Montrose discography. Bands also performed songs from Edgar Winter Group, Ronnie Montrose’s solo albums, and his band Gamma. As Keith St. John introduced each round of players, he shared small tidbits about Ronnie while also talking about the influence Montrose had on those playing the songs.
In many ways, Ronnie Montrose was one of rock’s best-kept secrets. Those in the know knew how impactful he indeed was, but he never was as well-known as some of the other artists of his time – which is a shame, especially seeing how talented and creative he was as a songwriter. With all the other events going on in the evening at the NAMM Show, hundreds of people filled the Grand Theater to honor this fallen musician. Instead of a night full of sadness and loss, St. John cultivated an atmosphere full of celebration and reminiscence at Ronnie Montrose Remembered 2024.
Shannon Wilk is a Connecticut-based bassist and photographer. Since beginning her career in 2019, she has made waves in the live music scene and the digital world, playing legendary stages such as the Whisky A Go-Go and Monsters of Rock Cruise, as well as accumulating over 1 million views across online platforms. In addition to her blossoming music career, she showcases her passion for music through concert photography and journalism. From KISS to Foo Fighters to Yungblud, Shannon has captured rock royalty through her lens.