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California, United States (1973 – 1976)

Montrose was the original Californian band, pioneering the kind of short and punchy songs ready made for arenas that would be a template for later and more successful bands such as Van Halen. The band featured Ronnie Montrose on guitar (coming off a successful stint in The Edgar Winter Group) and future solo star and Van Halen member Sammy Hagar. Rounding out the foursome on their Ted Templeman-produced debut, Montrose (Warner Bros., 1973), were drummer Denny Carmassi and Bill Church. The original line-up lasted long enough to make just their debut album.

The first member to leave was Bill Church, who was later replaced by Alan Fitzgerald for the band’s second (and final album) with Hagar on vocals that they titled ‘Paper Money’ (Warner Bros., 1974). After departing, Hagar released a succession of solo albums in the mid-to-late 70s and early 80s (often with the remaining members of Montrose) as well as a one-off live album with the band Hagar Schon Aaronson Shrieve. He joined Van Halen in the mid 1980s. As a band Montrose released a further two albums on Warner Brothers, Warner Brothers Presents …Montrose (1975) and Jump on It, both featuring Bob James on vocals, and new member Jim Alcivar on keyboards. On Jump On It Fitzgerald was replaced on bass by Randy Jo Hobbs.

Whilst Montrose failed to make the kind of impact their pioneering early work merited, they have nonetheless influenced a whole generation of hard rock and metal bands.


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