Entertainment & Arts

Ronnie Montrose: Coroner rules death a suicide

The death of rock guitarist Ronnie Montrose has been ruled a suicide, according to a coroner in San Francisco.

The 64-year-old, who performed with artists including Van Morrison and Herbie Hancock, died on Saturday.

On the star's website , a statement from his family said: "We hope you can understand why we wanted to keep this news a private family matter."

He had suffered from clinical depression for much of his life.

'Reflective state'

Montrose's booking agent Jim Douglas, previously said the musician had been battling prostate cancer and "personal demons."

But Michael Molenda, editor of Guitar Player magazine and a friend of Montrose, said the musician had overcome the cancer, beating "that gremlin into the dirt".

He wrote: "Anticipating the coroner's findings would soon be made public, the Montrose family asked me to write this article."

Mr Molenda said the deaths of Montrose's uncle and dog within weeks of each other had put him in a "reflective state".

His wife Leighsa Montrose said he did not leave a suicide note, but had texted her to say: "I'm so sorry. Still have the gun in my hand. I'm going on that voyage. I love you beyond measure."

The family statement said: "By now, the devastating truth of Ronnie's death is public knowledge.

"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.

"Please keep his energy, his joy, and his love in your hearts."

Montrose led his own, self-named band in the 1970s, but also performed with the likes of Sammy Hagar, Boz Scaggs and the Edgar Winter Group.

Born in Denver, Colorado, he got his first break when he was invited to play on Van Morrison's 1971 album, Tupelo Honey.

His own songs were covered by other rock acts, including Iron Maiden, who covered I've Got the Fire and Space Station 5.

Van Halen also played versions of the songs Rock Candy and Make It Last during their early club days.

Montrose is survived by his wife, two children and five grandchildren.

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