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Dick Wagner

The Bossmen, The Frost, Ursa Major and he has released many solo albums. He played lead guitar or wrote songs with Alice Cooper, Aerosmith, Kiss, Lou Reed, Peter Gabriel, Meat Loaf, Steve Perry, Etta James, Rod Stewart, Tim Curry Tina Turner, Air Supply, Hall & Oates, Ringo Starr, Guns & Roses, Tori Amos, Frank Sinatra and numerous others. (RIP 7-30-2014)

Dick Wagner

Friday November 11, 2011 concert with Dick Wagner, courtesy of Tom Kirby and Willy Wilson











Dick Wagner (born December 14, 1943, in Oelwein, Iowa is an American rock music guitarist and songwriter best known for his work with Alice Cooper, Lou Reed and KISS.

Dick Wagner – Stagger Lee – YouTube (3:56)

Dick Wagner – 70th Birthday Bash – Dont Go Messin – YouTube (10:11)

Dick Wagner and the Frost – 1969 – Jenny Lee – YouTube (3:07)


Dick Wagner soloing on PUT IT AWAY – YouTube (1:27)


Dick Wagner Great Guitar Solo – YouTube (3:06)





[edit] Performing career

Growing up in the Saginaw area, Wagner’s first band, called The Bossmen, was a favorite in the Detroit area and scored radio play with the Wagner penned composition “Baby Boy”. His next band, The Frost, with Donny Hartman, Bobby Rigg, and Gordy Garris, was formed in the late 1960s and built up a substantial following in the Michigan area. The band released three albums during their tenure together on Vanguard Records: 1969’s Frost Music and Rock and Roll Music, plus 1970’s Through the Eyes of Love.

Wagner then formed the short-lived group “Ursa Major” with former Amboy Dukes bassist Greg Arama and released one self-titled album. Wagner was soon recruited for Lou Reed’s band along with Steve Hunter. They are best known for the intro to the Rock ‘n’ Roll Animal live album song “Sweet Jane”. Many famous guitarists[who?] have stated this intro is some of the most influential guitar playing ever. Soon after, producer Bob Ezrin brought both Wagner and Steve Hunter into sessions with Alice Cooper , Wagner having already featured on the School’s Out album playing the memorable guitar solo on the track ‘My Stars’.

The result was that after the breakup of the Alice Cooper group Wagner became Alice Cooper’s right-hand man on the next four studio albums that followed, the 1975 ground breaking Welcome to My Nightmare the revolutionary live show also featuring Wagner and Hunter in a guitar battle captured on the film of the same name released on home video in 1976. Follow up albums Goes To Hell, Lace and Whiskey, From the Inside and DaDa, also saw Wagner helping in songwriting, composing, production and playing lead guitar.

Wagner was assisted in most of these endeavors by Steve Hunter. The two have been best friends since their work with Lou Reed and a film about their work together with Reed, Cooper and others entitled ‘Rock and Roll Animals’ featuring interviews with Wagner, Hunter and Alice Cooper is currently in production.

In 1978, Wagner released a solo LP called Richard Wagner on Atlantic Records. Strong songs and production (by Bob Ezrin) along with his fiery lead guitar work made for a solid outing. Unfortunately, a lack of promotion saw the album relegated to the cut-out bin.

Wagner has also played lead guitar or written songs for Aerosmith, Lou Reed, Burton Cummings, KISS, Meat Loaf, Steve Perry, Ringo Starr, Etta James, Peter Gabriel, Rod Stewart, Tina Turner, Air Supply, Hall & Oates, Roy Orbison, Jerry Lee Lewis, Little Richard and many more.

Some of the other highlighted albums during the 1970s include: Lou Reed’s Rock ‘n’ Roll Animal and Berlin albums, KISS’ Destroyer, Aerosmith’s Get Your Wings, Peter Gabriel’s self-titled solo debut, Hall & Oates’ Along the Red Ledge, Burton Cummings Dream Of A Child, Mark Farner’s solo debut and a pair of albums for the star of The Rocky Horror Picture Show, Tim Curry.

[edit] Songwriting Credits

One of the best-known songs written by Wagner is ‘Only Women Bleed’. It was written during the days of The Frost, but unhappy with his lyrics, Wagner decided not to release it. Once his collaboration with Alice Cooper started, Dick played the song for him, and Alice penned the lyrics we know shortly after. Only Women Bleed from the Alice Cooper album Welcome to My Nightmare, has become one of the most covered songs of all time. Artists from Tina Turner, Etta James, Guns N’ Roses, Lita Ford, Tori Amos and most recently Wensday, have put their talents to the first song[citation needed] known to deal with domestic violence,[1] which has been covered at least 25 times over the years by popular musicians.

Two other ballads co-written by Wagner once again brought him public recognition as a great songwriting talent. First ‘Shine Silently’ with Nils Lofgren, who performed it originally on his 1979 album Nils, then as part of Ringo Starr & His All-Starr Band’s 1990 eponymous first album. Later came ‘Might As Well Be On Mars’, again with Alice Cooper, which featured on his 1991 album Hey Stoopid.

[edit] Recent Life and Career

In 2005, Wagner permanently moved to Phoenix, Arizona, where he is currently writing again with Alice Cooper for a new album. However, in July 2007, he suffered a major heart attack. He has now partially recovered and is able to work again, although his guitar playing is severely limited for now. Wagner is currently working with the up and coming artist Wensday, who is signed to his independent record label Desert Dreams Records. Her debut album, produced by Wagner, was included on the 2007 50th Anniversary Grammy Awards ballot. Although Wagner and Wensday did not win, it brought attention to his songwriting ability and production work that has been overlooked for many years. He is quoted as saying that Wensday’s album ‘TORCH ROCK’ is his best work yet.

He is continuing to recover from his near fatal heart attack, and will soon be back to playing again. In recent months he has worked with Steve Hunter again, on a yet unnamed single for the artist, Wensday.

Wagner released a new CD in October 2009, called ‘Full Meltdown’ on his independent record label Desert Dreams Records. Full Meltdown features 15 lost and newly discovered songs recorded by Wagner between 1979 and 1995. He is also currently producing the band Warsaw Pact, and the independent artist Brandon Bullard with releases from both to come in early 2010. Wagner scored with Alice Cooper and the British Funk rock band The Velvet Hearts the soundtrack to the Indie horror film Silas Gore, A Film Trilogy.[2]

On July 1, 2010 when talking about the newly retitled album, Welcome to My Nightmare II, Alice said in a Radio Metal interview: “We’ll put some of the original people on it and add some new people, I’m very happy with working with Bob (Ezrin) again.” Names mentioned so far are Slash, Neil Smith, Dennis Dunnaway, Steven Hunter and Dick Wagner. Dennis and Neil have already writing two songs they worked on. No mention of Michael Bruce being on the new album (so far), Michael co-wrote many of the hit songs with some or all of the other members of the original band, and Michael was part of Alice’s Christmas show. Michael has stated he has written many songs over the years that could be turned into Alice Cooper classics and would love to work with Alice and Dick Wagner again.

Dick has just completed some guitar stylings on the new Alice Cooper album ‘Welcome 2 My Nightmare’, the long awaited sequel to 1975’s ‘Welcome To My Nightmare’. He has contributed his guitar playing and writing skills to this album, released September, 2011.

[edit] Notes

[edit] External links

[hide]v · d · eAlice Cooper
Alice CooperSteve HunterChuck GarricOrianthiTommy HenriksenGlen Sobel
See: Former members list
Studio albums
Live albums
The Alice Cooper ShowA Fistful of AliceBrutally LiveLive at Montreux 2005Theatre of Death: Live at Hammersmith 2009
Reflected” • “Eighteen” • “Caught In A Dream” • “Under My Wheels” • “Be My Lover” • “School’s Out” • “Elected” • “Hello, Hooray” • “No More Mr. Nice Guy”  • “Billion Dollar Babies” • “Halo of Flies” • “Teenage Lament ’74” • “Muscle of Love” • “Only Women Bleed” • “Department of Youth” • “Welcome to My Nightmare” • “I Never Cry” • “You and Me” • “(No More) Love At Your Convenience” • “School’s Out (live)” • “How You Gonna See Me Now” • “From The Inside” • “Clones (We’re All)” • “Talk Talk” • “You Want It, You Got It” • “Seven and Seven Is” • “For Britain Only” • “I Am the Future” • “I Love America” • “He’s Back (The Man Behind the Mask)” • “Teenage Frankenstein” • “Freedom” • “Poison” • “Bed of Nails” • “House of Fire” • “Only My Heart Talkin’” • “Hey Stoopid” • “Love’s a Loaded Gun” • “Feed My Frankenstein” • “The Garden(w/ Guns N’ Roses) • “Lost in America” • “It’s Me” • “Gimme” • “Keepin’ Halloween Alive
and box sets
Psycho Drama (2007-2009)Theatre of Death Tour (2009-2010)No More Mr. Nice Guy Tour (2011)
Related articles

Website: http://wagnermusic.com

Facebook: http://facebook.com/wagnerrocks

Michigan Rock and Roll Legends/Hall of Fame – The Frost

August 23, 2013
If all goes well, by tonight, I should be watching my all-time favorite guitarist, Dick Wagner, playing at the Hasting Summer Fest. For those of you who never heard much about him, he began his career with many local Michigan bands. In my hometown of Sparta MI, he produced several records at our now, historically famous Fenton Record’s studio. His own bands have included The Bossmen, The Frost, Ursa Major and he has released many solo albums. He played lead guitar or wrote songs with Alice Cooper, Aerosmith, Kiss, Lou Reed, Peter Gabriel, Meat Loaf, Steve Perry, Etta James, Rod Stewart, Tim Curry Tina Turner, Air Supply, Hall & Oates, Ringo Starr, Guns & Roses, Tori Amos, Frank Sinatra and numerous others. In 2013 he became a Silver Award IPPY medal winner for his book about his career, Not Only Women Bleed. Of course, I had him sign my copy.


Dick Wagner – Obituary: http://www.westmichmusichystericalsociety.com/dick-wagner-obituary/

One Response to Dick Wagner

  1. Dick Wagner called me about a month before he died, he wanted to update his page in our website. He told me that his manager Sue Michelson was waiting for my call to her to give me a host of information and youtubes, etc. on him. I didn’t know what to say when he said this is Dick Wagner from the Frost! All I remember saying was this is Dick Wagner, the famous Dick Wagner, he said yep. I still didn’t know what to say, as he sure caught me off guard, so I skirted the conversation and said that he should be talking to my website partner Kim Rush, as he’s the one that writes the stories. That’s when he said that Sue Michelson was waiting for my call.

    An E-mail I received from Dick Wagners Manager one month before his death:

    Susan Michelson
    Jun 20, 2014
    Hi Doug,

    I’m Dick Wagner’s manager, and he’s sent me the link to your cool new Michigan music pages. Thanks for putting this up for Michigan’s tremendous musicians!
    As you request, I would like to help you augment and update Dick’s pages. Please feel free to post…

    I attach:

    An assortment of Photos from across “The Maestro’s” long and illustrious career.
    A few posters from Wagner’s early Michigan shows.
    BIO: an updated bio with Dick’s current activities. The bio includes sampling of “Rock Royalty” quotes and comments on Dick’s long and illustrious career.

    VIDEO links of Interest. Please feel free to post…

    Dick Wagner, Live with Alice Cooper, “Welcome to My Nightmare” Tour: http://bit.ly/1f8uXq9
    Dick Wagner live, “Intro to Sweet Jane” (Lou Reed – with Steve Hunter): http://bit.ly/LVxw7p
    Alice Cooper on “Hiring Dick Wagner:” http://bit.ly/1cyQ6if
    Dick Wagner, live “All Along the Watchtower” http://bit.ly/RZFkJf
    Dick Wagner, A Song for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital (featuring Mark Farner, Elliot Easton, Danny Seraphine, Trini Lopez, Merrilee Rush, and many more): http://bit.ly/1bDpaIt
    Dick Wagner, “Jerusalem,” a tribute to the Universal Soldier: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lgGzq9zZxUY
    Dick Wagner Gibson.com “Top 50 Guitar Solos of All Time” for Sweet Jane (Lou Reed live, Rock n Roll Animal album): http://bit.ly/UoRWKG
    Dick Wagner “Riff this Way: Aerosmith’s Top 10 Riff-Heavy Tracks” Dick Wagner honored for two tracks: # 1 for “Same Old Song & Dance” and also #4: “Train Kept A Rollin'”

    Weblinks and Social Media:
    Official Website: http://www.wagnermusic.com
    Official: http://www.notonlywomenbleed.com
    Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/wagnerrocks?fref=ts
    Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/groups/maestroofrock/
    Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/groups/thedickheads/

    If I can help you further with additional materials, please let me know. Thank you!

    All the best,

    Susan Michelson
    602 920 8115

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