There’s been a sad update to the details surrounding Ronnie Montrose’s passing on March 3rd.
Over the weekend, the San Mateo County Coroner’s Office revealed that the guitar icon died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head, rather than prostate cancer (which was the prevalent assumption).
After the truth was revealed, Montrose’s family felt compelled to post a lengthy message on his website and Facebook page, encouraging fans to celebrate his life rather than mourn his death.
This piece from Guitar Player sheds some deeply personal insight into the matter, in the form of text messages Montrose sent to his wife/manager Leighsa in the minutes before taking his own life. The article reveals that the guitarist had some deep-seeded personal conflicts, inner battles which drove him to a lifelong battle with alcohol addiction and sometimes crippling self-doubt. From the article:
But the deaths of his uncle and his beloved bulldog within three weeks of each other in January 2012 (the week before, and the week after the filming of his live DVD), put Montrose in a reflective state, and likely exacerbated his ongoing depression.
He had texted his wife asking if she wanted him to bring her lunch, and after that exchange Montrose followed up with the following, saying that he was glad she had “figured it out, found the hooch, and stopped him from going down the dark path.”
Minutes later, however -
I have the .38 in my hand and am ready to go.
His wife assumed he was being metaphoric, but then he sent this:
I’m so sorry. Still have the gun in my hand. I’m going on that voyage. I love you beyond measure.
She rushed home, but it was too late, Montrose had already taken his life.
It’s a tremendously sad end to this story, one that perhaps may alter Montrose’s image in the eyes of some of his fans and the public.
To read more of Leighsa Montrose’s tragic account of what happened, read the full article.
And R.I.P. Ronnie Montrose.