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.
 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.
 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 known to deal with domestic violence, 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.
 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.
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.
 External links
- Official website
- Production Company
- Dick Wagner at the Internet Movie Database
- Interview on Outsight Radio Hours