‘There were some problems’: Sammy Hagar says film of Ronnie Montrose tribute show has hit a snag

Sammy Hagar reveals why a hoped-for DVD souvenir remains unreleased more than eight months after the Chickenfoot frontman and a host of other notables gathered to honor Ronnie Montrose at the Regency Ballroom in San Francisco.

Montrose, after a lengthy bout of cancer, committed suicide in March at age 64, just before a scheduled reunion of his hard-rocking self-titled 1970s band’s original lineup, featuring Hagar.

Even as tributes poured in from all around the world, Hagar joined fellow Montrose members Bill Church and Denny Carmassi for what became a memorial event, with Chickenfoot guitarist Joe Satriani filling in for the late Ronnie Montrose. Journey’s Neal Schon, former Journey drummer Steve Smith, Styx’s Ricky Phillips, Kiss’ Eric Singer and others were also featured, as was Gamma — Montrose’s subsequent band — which included Carmassi, with Marc Bonilla on guitar.

Hagar says everything was recorded. It seems the project has hit other snags.

[SOMETHING ELSE! REWIND: Fellow former Ronnie Montrose sidemen Marc Bonilla and Steve Smith remember the late guitarist as a mentor, musical inspiration and friend.]

“There were some problems with the Montrose estate people; they weren’t cooperating,” Hagar says in a new video Q&A, found below. “But we filmed everything, and did some great stuff. If it doesn’t get done sooner, than later, I’m gonna just take it and do it myself.”

“A Concert for Ronnie Montrose: A Celebration Of His Life In Music” recognized an amazing life in music.

Montrose’s underrated self-titled 1973 debut has gone on to much broader acclaim in the ensuing years, serving as a template for the early recordings of Van Halen. (Hagar, of course, later played with Van Halen’s second edition.) But there was much, much more to Montrose’s legacy.

Montrose, who was born in San Francisco in 1947, initially rose to fame in 1971 as sideman with Van Morrison. He also was a member of the Edgar Winter Group, before forming his eponymous group. Montrose would issue five albums through 1987, while Ronnie Montrose released eight projects under his own name — along with four as part of the experimental rock group Gamma. Over the years, Montrose’s albums and tours featured a well spring of talent, including the then-unknown Hagar, Aynsley Dunbar, Bonilla, Glenn Letsch, Mitchell Froom and Smith — who gave up an early career in jazz to play rock music after touring with Montrose behind his all-instrumental 1978 album Open Fire. Members of Journey discovered Smith on that tour.

Besides his own albums, Montrose also contributed to a number of other memorable releases over the years, including: Van Morrison’s Tupelo Honey, the Edgar Winter Group’s They Only Come Out at Night, the Neville Brothers’ Uptown, Herbie Hancock’s Mwandishi and Gary Wright’s The Dream Weaver, as well as other dates with Jefferson Airplane’s Paul Kantner, Nicolette Larson and Boz Scaggs.

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