One of the most successful rock stars of all time has opened up on Wednesday. The vocalist and frontman Alice Cooper paid tribute and called Dick Wagner, his band’s former guitarist and collaborator, as irreplaceable. Wagner co-wrote some songs released into Welcome to My Nightmare, Cooper’s eighth studio and first solo album.
The rock star stated he never expect to lose close friends even though he know “it is inevitable.” According to Cooper, there are few people that he enjoyed working; Wagner was one of them. “He was one of a kind. He is irreplaceable,” said the 66-year-old frontman. He remembered that most of Welcome to My Nightmare was written with the guitarist’s help, “Some of my biggest singles were ballads what I wrote with him.”
Dick Wagner joined Alice Cooper band in the 1970s. When the members of the group parted ways in 1974, Wagner became the principal co-writer in the solo work of Cooper. The first released album of this new era was Welcome to My Nightmare. He did not co-write just five of the 11-track record. “There was magic in the way we wrote together,” said the vocalist. He also stated that Wagner was always able to find the right chord to match with something Cooper was working on.
Born Richard Allen Wagner, Dick moved to New York in 1972 and formed a band called Ursa Major. The original line-up included Billy Joel. After a national tour with Jeff Beck, Wagner was recruited to join the solo work of Alice Cooper. He played with him for approximately 10 years. Wagner lent his talent to a few albums recorded by great musicians or bands as Peter Gabriel, Air Supply, Hall & Oates, Burton Cummings, Lou Reed, Aerosmith and Kiss.
Paul Stanley accompanied Cooper and also paid tribute to Alice’s late “irreplaceable” guitarist. The vocalist of Kiss said in a statement that Wagner was a stellar player. Moreover, according to Stanley, his work with Steve Hunter, also guitarist, on Rock&Roll Animal, Lou Reed’s album, was legendary. Kiss’ bassist Gene Simmons completed, “He was consummate gentleman axeman and will be missed.” The musician worked with Kiss on 1976 Destroyer, but was not credited. He replaced the original guitarist Ace Frehley on the track Sweet Pain and recorded the acoustic guitar on Beth. Wagner also played one guitar solo on Revenge album, released on May 1992.
SRC and Detroit Wheels’ Ray Goodman knew Wagner since the 1960s and said, “I consider him the best and brightest of my generation.” Goodman has been Wagner’s band leader since 2011. He stated his friend could write a song about anything because he had a gift. Rationals’ Scott Morgan, another colleague of Wagner’s, said, “He played very well, but his songwriting ability was probably underestimated.”
Dick Wagner had a heart attack in 2007 and spent two weeks in a coma. He managed to recover physically, released a new album, Full Meltdown, and published Not Only Women Bleed: Vignettes From the Heart of a Rock Musician, his memoir. The irreplaceable former guitarist of Alice Cooper, who paid tribute to him, played his final concert on June 29 in Owosso, Michigan. Wagner had been suffering since July from an infection following heart surgery. He died at the age of 71 of a respiratory failure in Phoenix, Arizona. According to his manager, a memorial will be held in Michigan.
By Murillo Moret