Thanks for the thoughts and prayers. It's been a tough time for all of us.
We were going to see Ronnie play at B.B. King's, NYC, in May. Ronnie knew we were going to be there and was excited we were going to come to see him play. We hadn't seen him perform since September of 2004.
Ronnie told me he would be there for Rick, if Rick got prostate cancer. Their dad had it, then Ronnie, and Rick is seven years younger, so of course there is a good chance that Rick, and Mike, too, will deal with it at some point. Rick is the youngest of the three boys.
Ronnie had the sweetest telephone voice. You could hear the smile on the other end. Know what I mean? He had such a quiet voice, and he was so very nice to me.
Sammy Hagar is putting together some sort of memorial concert for Ronnie. There was no funeral service because Ronnie wouldn't have wanted it. We talked to Ronnie's wife, and she said Sammy is planning this for about a month out. We will very likely be on Maui and won't be able to go. Rick's stepmom will be with us on Maui.
That's a shame, but I am sure his kids and grandkids will be there to represent the family.
Someone asked if I had a story. I don't really have a great story related to his music, just a few little bits of things that stick out in my mind. Rick and I went to some of his concerts and enjoyed them, and I met his band back in 1974, including Sammy Hagar. But it wasn't really my kind of music. It was really exciting when the music played on the radio at work, and everyone would say, "Hey, Ronnie's song is on..." People never believe you, when you are 19 and say you are related to Ronnie Montrose. I know they didn't believe Ronnie was Rick's brother, and I didn't care.
Ronnie's band played on Midnight Special years and years ago. Remember that show? Anyway, he was wearing suspenders, which I remember vividly, and he was so energetic during that performance. He was always energetic, but this particular time, he was jumping up and down like crazy. I wondered if he was just giddy with excitement about that show, or if he was always like that (or maybe it was drugs?). His back paid him back for all of that jumping, later in life. He had terrible back pain, same as Rick.
When Rick's band (most are firefighters, and the drummer is a mortician) started playing Ronnie's music, then I heard it enough that I became a fan. This is only over the last four years or so.... They play Bad Motor Scooter, Rock Candy, and a few others. I now understand why people love the music. I told Ronnie that a few months ago, and he just laughed.
He played "Town Without Pity" at my request at his own wedding in 2004. I loved the way he played that song, and I was a big fan of his rendition, and a few others, specifically on the Open Fire album. He always sent us several copies of his albums, when they first came out.
Ronnie loved to sit on our patio swing in the summer and watch the night sky during a lightning storm, as he smoked his favorite cigar (which I wouldn't let him smoke inside). He said he never gets to see that kind of lighting activity in California.
He stayed with us during his few visits. Always the perfect guest. He restrung Rick's guitar the last time he was here because the strings were hurting his fingers as he played it. I was surprised he would have guitar strings in his luggage, even when he was here for their dad's funeral.
Ronnie had a layover in Denver between a tour and going home. He invited us to visit with him and Leighsa there for about three hours. It was Helen (stepmom), Mike and his wife, and the two of us. Ronnie didn't want all of the nieces and nephews (considerable number of those). This was a few months ago, probably October. We chose a restaurant at the airport and he called to ask where we were. We went into the hallway to watch for his arrival. He was wearing a hat, had his guitar case tucked around behind him, and he had a huge smile on his face. That is the image that is etched in my mind, and Rick's too.
We saw Ronnie quite a bit two years ago, when we went to SF and stayed at Powell Place. He and his wife picked us up at the hotel and took us to a restaurant at Half-Moon Bay (is that what it's called?), which was a drive out of SF. It was a great seafood place, and it was my first time eating clam chowder. It was delicious. That's a great memory because we just sat and watched the water, eating great food and catching up on the family news.
Ronnie loved showing us his favorite things in SF that trip. I told him I didn't like riding BART and wasn't looking forward to the airport run. So he and Leighsa picked us up on our last day and took us to their house for a long visit, then to the airport. He always had time for family. He loved San Francisco. He was so happy there. He was born in SF, and when he ran away at 17, he went back to SF. He was too young to remember living there as a child, so maybe it was just a coincidence. He was drawn there. Even when he lived in LA for a while, he wanted to be back in the SF area.
Thanks for letting me go on and on.