Montrose was an American hard-rock band that released four albums on Warner Bros. between 1973 and 1976. Led by namesake guitarist Ronnie Montrose, the band launched the career of future solo star and Van Halen frontman Sammy Hagar.

Members: Ronnie Montrose (guitar, vocals), Denny Carmassi (drums, 1973-76), Sammy Hagar (vocals, 1973-75), Bill Church (bass, 1973-?), Alan Fitzgerald (bass, keyboards, ?-1975), Bob James (vocals, 1975-76), Jim Alcivar (keyboards, 1975-76), Randy Jo Hobbs (bass, 1975-76), Johnny Edwards (vocals, 1987), Glenn Letsch (bass, 1987), James Kottak (drums, 1987)


Montrose formed in early 1973 in San Francisco when guitarist Ronnie Montrose drafted singer Sammy Hagar, drummer Denny Carmassi, and bassist Bill Church, a longtime collegue.

Ronnie Montrose (1947–2012) fled Denver for San Francisco at age 16 to pursue a life in music. His first band, Sawbuck, included Church and drummer Chuck Ruff. They signed to Fillmore Records, co-founded by Bay Area concert promoter Bill Graham. Just as sessions got underway, producer David Rubinson notified Van Morrison, a recent transplant to the area, of Ronnie’s talent. Morrison picked Montrose and Church for the backing band on his 1971 album Tupelo Honey. (Sawdust, completed and released in 1972, features Montrose on one track and Church on two.)

Just as sessions got underway for Morrison’s next album, Montrose jumped ship to the Edgar Winter Band with singer and keyboardist Dan Hartman. Montrose called Ruff into the group and this lineup recorded Winter’s third album, the 1972 Epic release They Only Come Out at Night, which spawned the hits “Frankenstein” and “Free Ride.” Meanwhile, Church backed Morrison on his 1972 album Saint Dominic’s Preview, which features Montrose on the track “Listen to the Lion.”

In early 1973, Montrose left Winter and formed a new band with Church and drummer Denny Carmassi, formerly of soul-rockers Sweet Linda Devine, an Al Kooper project fronted by singer Linda Tillery. Montrose picked Sammy Hagar, then singing in a Bay Area covers band, to front the new project, initially called Ronnie Montrose and Friends. Morrison’s producer Ted Templeman liked the Montrose demos and secured the band a contract with Warner Bros.


  • Montrose (1973)
  • Paper Money (1974)
  • Warner Bros. Presents Montrose! (1975)
  • Jump on It (1976)
  • Mean (1987)


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