When the fabled San Francisco Bay guitarist Ronnie Montrose passed away in March 2012, he was working on a new album. It had started nearly 10 years previously in 2003, when Montrose called in bassist Ricky Phillips (Styx) and drummer Eric Singer (Kiss) to form a power-trio project that was going to be harder than anything he’d done for years. Now, a finished album, has been compiled from the numerous sessions in Montrose’s lifetime, and some since. It’s called 10x10, and it’s out in September.

Montrose had soon developed a concept — record rock 10 songs and bring in 10 different vocalists to sing them, hence the eventual title. He brought Phillips and Singer to Doug Messenger’s studio in North Hollywood, and they and knocked out 10 basic tracks in two or three days. Then it was time for the vocalists. Montrose did manage to record some of his chosen vocalists during his lifetime — such as Sammy Hagar and Edgar Winter — but finances, schedules, and his worsening illness conspired to slow progress.

Montrose reportedly discussed 10x10 frequently, and wanted to finish it, but time ran out in 2012. It looked for a while like Montrose’s efforts were to be in vain, but Phillips, Singer, Ronnie’s widow Leighsa Montrose, along with Rhino Records, have now ensured that isn’t the case.

“I was talking to Eric about 10x10 after Ronnie died, and I was pretty sure that I wanted to see if I could finish it, but I hadn't been able to move forward on it,” says Ricky Phillips. “But Eric said, ‘It has to be you. You and I were there to record it. We were there when Ronnie was talking about it — what he wanted to do, who he wanted to sing on it, how he wanted it to sound. If someone else gets into this thing, it's going to suck, and you're going to hate it.’ That did it. I called Leighsa."

“I really admire and respect what Ricky did with the record,” adds Eric Singer. “It was a crazy amount of work, and he did the bulk of it.”

To get 10x10 completed, Phillips had to finish the vocal tracks with the guest artists — all based on conversations with Montrose before his death, or determined from who Ronnie liked and respected. He also had to bring in guest soloists, as Montrose had passed away before he got a chance to cut the guitar solos on the 10 tracks. The final track listing is below.

“Ronnie was always guiding the proceedings, even though he’s no longer here,” says Phillips. “This record wasn't about me, or my production sensibilities, and it wasn't about the guest artists. I knew what Ronnie wanted.”

“It’s valuable to have 10x10 be seen as Ronnie’s last work, rather than going and digging up some stuff from his past,” says Sammy Hagar. “This was something he truly had a vision for.”

10x10 is out via Rhino on September 29. Expanded two-CD versions of the first two Montrose albums, Montrose and Paper Money, are also released on October 13.

Ronnie Montrose

Ronnie Montrose 10X10 Track Listing (with guest singers and guitarists):

“Heavy Traffic” (Eric Martin and Dave Meniketti)

“Love Is an Art” (Edgar Winter and Rick Derringer)

“Color Blind” (Sammy Hagar and Steve Lukather) – hear it on Spotify and Soundcloud now

“Still Singin’ With the Band” (Glenn Hughes, Phil Collen, Jimmy “Z” Zavala)

“Strong Enough” (Tommy Shaw)

“Any Minute” (Mark Farner and Ricky Phillips)

“The Kingdom’s Come Undone” (Ricky Phillips and Joe Bonamassa)

“One Good Reason” (Bruce Turgon and Brad Whitford)

“Head On Straight” (Davey Pattison and Marc Bonilla)

“I’m Not Lying” (Gregg Rolie, Tom Gimbel and Lawrence Gowan)