That time I asked Steve Morse if winning readers poll awards in guitar mags meant anything to him

By Steve Newton There's a good reason I dragged the world-famous Ear of Newt Guitar to Vancouver's Commodore Ballroom one night back in 1991 when the Dixie Dregs were playing on a bill with Ronnie Montrose. It's because Steve Morse was the guitarist in the Dixie Dregs, and I really wanted to score his autograph, … Continue reading That time I asked Steve Morse if winning readers poll awards in guitar mags meant anything to him

Album review: Various Artists, Guitar Speak (1988)

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN THE GEORGIA STRAIGHT, DEC. 9, 1998 By Steve Newton The lineup of incredible guitarists on this all-instrumental string-fest says it all: Alvin Lee, Randy California, Eric Johnson, Leslie West, Ronnie Montrose, Steve Howe, Paul Manzanera, Rick Derringer, Pete Haycock, Steve Hunter, Hank Marvin, and Robby Krieger. Each player does one song, and … Continue reading Album review: Various Artists, Guitar Speak (1988)

Album review: Ronnie Montrose, The Speed of Sound (1988)

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN THE GEORGIA STRAIGHT, AUG. 5, 1988 By Steve Newton On his last album, Mean, guitar hero Ronnie Montrose rekindled the straightforward metal noise that sounded so fine on his early '70s albums with Sammy Hagar. On his new one, he's back on the instrumental rock path a la his 1978 release, Open … Continue reading Album review: Ronnie Montrose, The Speed of Sound (1988)

Album review: Axe, Offerings (1982)

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN THE GEORGIA STRAIGHT, JULY 9, 1982 By Steve Newton Just the fact that it includes a rousing version of the Montrose classic "I Got the Fire" makes Offerings worth the price you pay for it. Chief Axeman Bobby Barth pulls out all the stops on that particular tune, and makes a gallant, … Continue reading Album review: Axe, Offerings (1982)

Album review: Black Sabbath, Past Lives (2002)

  ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN THE GEORGIA STRAIGHT, OCT. 10, 2002 By Steve Newton I like collecting guitar picks. Whenever I’m near the stage and some six-string legend tosses out one of those wee plastic nubs, I’ll do what it takes to nab it. My most highly prized catch is a plain orange Ronnie Montrose pick … Continue reading Album review: Black Sabbath, Past Lives (2002)

The incredible story behind the Ear of Newt autographed guitar

By Steve Newton Back in January of 2013 when I started planning the Ear of Newt website--which I launched on Halloween night that year--I knew I had to get my autographed plexiglass guitar into the picture. I'd been dragging it around to concerts to get it signed by my fave pickers--folks like Link Wray, Ronnie … Continue reading The incredible story behind the Ear of Newt autographed guitar

Drummer Steve Smith gave up Journey’s arena rock to gain Vital Information

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN THE GEORGIA STRAIGHT, MARCH 27, 1987 By Steve Newton It's a long way, in musical terms, from the commercial rock of Journey to the improvisational jazz of Vital Information. But for drummer Steve Smith, who appears at the Town Pump Friday (March 27) with Vital Information, it was a route that had … Continue reading Drummer Steve Smith gave up Journey’s arena rock to gain Vital Information

That time Ronnie Montrose told me that singer-songwriters with a real passion are hard to find

By Steve Newton Today the world's top hard-rock/heavy-metal expert, Canada's own Martin Popoff, sent me an autographed copy of his new book, Rock the Nation: Montrose, Gamma and Ronnie Redefined. That got me thinking that maybe I should post another audio excerpt from my one and only interview with Ronnie Montrose, which occured in 1994 when he … Continue reading That time Ronnie Montrose told me that singer-songwriters with a real passion are hard to find

Newt’s Rock Hall inducts Warren Zevon, Rick Derringer, Albert Collins, Ronnie Montrose, Gary Moore, and Jethro Tull

By Steve Newton So the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame did it again. Today the poorly-named musical dumping ground in Cleveland inducted six acts into its fold, including folkie Joan Baez and rapper Tupac Shakur. Sure, they're both great at what they do, but are they rock 'n' roll? Kinda doubt it. The other … Continue reading Newt’s Rock Hall inducts Warren Zevon, Rick Derringer, Albert Collins, Ronnie Montrose, Gary Moore, and Jethro Tull

That time Rick Derringer told me that one of the favourite solos he ever played was for Air Supply

By Steve Newton Back in the seventies, Rick Derringer was one of my top rock heroes. I mean, come on, the guy wrote "Still Alive and Well". He played on 1971's Johnny Winter And Live.  He produced the Edgar Winter Group's They Only Come Out at Night (my intro to Ronnie Montrose) in '72. He played … Continue reading That time Rick Derringer told me that one of the favourite solos he ever played was for Air Supply

Back in the ‘Wack Vol. 9: Thunderhead are “heavy metal all the way”

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN THE CHILLIWACK PROGRESS, JUNE 17, 1981 By Steve Newton (In the final story of a series on local bands that has profiled Joker, The Lakers, The Vacationers, Loose Change, Citizen's Band, The Postcards, Midnight Smoke and Homegrown, The Progress presents a look at Thunderhead.) Heavily metallic rock music has come a long way … Continue reading Back in the ‘Wack Vol. 9: Thunderhead are “heavy metal all the way”

Remembering the Commodore’s Drew Burns: Best. Promoter. Ever.

By now most everyone who follows the Vancouver music scene has heard the sad news about the passing of local concert-biz legend Drew Burns. The longtime proprietor of the Commodore Ballroom died on Saturday, leaving scores of friends and fans feeling down--until memories of him got them up again. The last time I saw Drew was backstage … Continue reading Remembering the Commodore’s Drew Burns: Best. Promoter. Ever.

Guitar legend Rick Derringer has soloed for everyone from Alice Cooper to Air Supply

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN THE GEORGIA STRAIGHT, JULY 22, 1999 By Steve Newton When most people hear the name Rick Derringer, they probably think of his ’70s hit “Rock and Roll, Hoochie Koo”, which typified the randy guitar-boogie of the free-love era. Others may remember him for “Hang On Sloopy”, the 1965 sing-along number Derringer did … Continue reading Guitar legend Rick Derringer has soloed for everyone from Alice Cooper to Air Supply

Talking Ry Cooder, Ronnie Montrose, and the Allmans with Gov’t Mule’s Warren Haynes

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN THE GEORGIA STRAIGHT, NOV. 12, 1998 By Steve Newton Bluesman Luther Allison, folk-pop troubadour Jeff Buckley, fingerstyle-guitar innovator Michael Hedges, and jazz drummer Tony Williams might seem unlikely heroes for a southern-rock band, but they’re who Gov’t Mule’s new CD, Dose, is dedicated to. Between the time the band started recording Dose … Continue reading Talking Ry Cooder, Ronnie Montrose, and the Allmans with Gov’t Mule’s Warren Haynes

Marc Bonilla inspired by the intensity and melodies of Ronnie Montrose

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN THE GEORGIA STRAIGHT, APRIL 30, 1992 BY STEVE NEWTON Kids wanna rock for all kinds of reasons. Seeing the Beatles on The Ed Sullivan Show is a common driving force; hearing Hendrix for the first time another. Then there are the old adages about getting into music “to get chicks” or because … Continue reading Marc Bonilla inspired by the intensity and melodies of Ronnie Montrose

Edgar Winter strives to break down senseless musical barriers

ORIGINALLY POSTED ON STRAIGHT.COM, JULY 28, 2005 By Steve Newton Most rock bands from the '70s aren't making waves on the sales charts these days, but not every musician who thrived 30 years ago has been barred from Billboard in recent years. Edgar Winter had the chorus from his 1971 song "Dying to Live" used … Continue reading Edgar Winter strives to break down senseless musical barriers

Irish guitar hero Gary Moore found dead in a Spanish hotel room

ORIGINALLY POSTED ON STRAIGHT.COM, FEB. 6, 2011 The guitar world is in mourning today as the news of Gary Moore's death travels around the globe. The Irish musician—best known for his work with Thin Lizzy and his solo career as a hard rocker-turned-bluesman—passed away early this morning in his room at the luxury Kempinski Resort … Continue reading Irish guitar hero Gary Moore found dead in a Spanish hotel room

“Frankenstein” drummer Chuck Ruff from the Edgar Winter Group dies

ORIGINALLY POSTED ON STRAIGHT.COM, OCT. 18, 2011 Chuck Ruff--the guy with the coolest name ever who also played drums with the Edgar Winter Group during its mid-'70s heyday--passed away in San Francisco last Friday (October 14) after a long illness. He was 60 years old. Ruff is best known for his shit-hot drumming on the … Continue reading “Frankenstein” drummer Chuck Ruff from the Edgar Winter Group dies

Rock-guitar legend Ronnie Montrose dies at the age of 64

ORIGINALLY POSTED ON STRAIGHT.COM, MARCH 4, 2012 I was shocked to find out, just minutes ago, that one of my top guitar heroes from the '70s, Ronnie Montrose, died yesterday (March 3). He passed away after a five-year battle with prostate cancer. (As I--and most everybody else--learned later, Montrose actually died from a self-inflicted gunshot … Continue reading Rock-guitar legend Ronnie Montrose dies at the age of 64

My first and last interview with guitar hero Ronnie Montrose

ORIGINALLY POSTED ON STRAIGHT.COM, MARCH 4, 2012 By Steve Newton It may seem kinda crazy to stay up all night transcribing a phone interview I did with Ronnie Montrose 14 years ago, but the news of his death yesterday hit me pretty hard. He was such a wonderful and underrated player that I feel it's … Continue reading My first and last interview with guitar hero Ronnie Montrose