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Guitarist Ronnie Montrose began his career as a backing musician, playing with Van Morrison, Boz Scaggs, and Edgar Winter. He finally formed his own band in 1973. Named after the guitarist, Montrose also featured vocalist Sammy Hagar, bassist Bill Church, and drummer Denny Carmassi; they released their debut album in 1974, and Church was replaced by Alan Fitzgerald shortly after its release. Released the following year, Paper Money confirmed the band's status as one of the more popular hard rock acts of their era.