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DICK WAGNER
Saginaw, Michigan, U.S.A.
Have you ever wondered who's soaring guitar it is behind Alice Cooper? Well sessionist Dick Wagner was Alice's right hand man, in song writing, composing, production and of course lead guitar. Dick was usually accompanied by lead guitarist and friend Steve Hunter, they have played together since the 60's. But this page is for Dick. I will do Steve another day. First a fact or two , as some people still don't seem to know, it is Dick Wagner not Joe Perry on Aerosmith’s 'Get Your Wings' album, on the track ‘Train Kept A Rollin’’, now become a signature riff. Dick also 'ghosted' on Revenge by Kiss and on Kiss’s 'Destroyer'.
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Dick Wagner
Even the world's greatest rock and roll showmen can't monopolize the affections of the world's youth without some help. Sorry, Alice Cooper. Sorry, Lou Reed. Yeah, they had help. Big time! Especially from Dick Wagner and Steve Hunter! Both Cooper and Reed enlisted hired-gun guitarists Wagner and Hunter to help sustain their creative zenith during the 1970s ..quote from V.Guitar.

Dick Wagner : The Bossman
[above] Dick in 1964 in The Bossman

PART INTERVIEW by VintageGuitar.com

What equipment did you use in Reed's band?
I was playing a Les Paul TV Special, which has since been stolen. I used a 100-watt Marshall half-stack. A guy named Red Rhodes did some work on it. I was also playing through an old Echoplex and a MXR phaser.
You were a ghost writer/performer on Cooper's records before you joined his band, correct?

Right. Cooper's School's Out was the first really big album I played on. They would usually bring me and Steve in when they needed some hot solos or things the other players couldn't pull off in the right way. The first song (producer) Bob Ezrin, Alice, and I wrote together was "I Love The Dead." I sold my portion of the song to them because I needed money. So, I wasn't credited on the album. At that time, Alice and his original band were living in a mansion in Connecticut. It was a bizarre place. They drove around in these old Rolls Royces and I was like, "Okay!"
You did sessions for several other big artists, like Aerosmith and Kiss, as well?
Yeah. Kiss, they came out of nowhere. They didn't have the studio knowledge guys like me had to accomplish that kind of stuff. They did most of their own stuff but once in awhile they needed something special, a style they couldn't really pull off. Same with Alice's original band. They were younger players and they couldn't do what Bob Ezrin and Alice Cooper were envisioning, musically.
Any advice for up-and-coming session players, particularly for guitar solos?
When you do a session for anybody, know the song! If you take the song personally, your solos will fit and take off as an extension of the song's philosophy. When you're doing a solo, don't just blaze away and hope for something. You want to ask what the song's doing melodically and let yourself go from there. Solos are an extension of the songwriting.
The creativity in the studio must have been intense during your first few years as a session player!
It was constant flow, and it was electric! Those were great days! Now, it's a more mellow, wiser kind of creativity. You've already been there and you know what your doing. In those days, you'd never been there and you were discovering it all, which was exciting in that sense. I got very excited every time I played a solo. It was a learning process.
You often used B.C. Rich guitars in Cooper's band, correct?
Yes. I was playing a B.C. Rich Eagle through the late-'60s Marshall heads. Mine was one of the first Eagles ever made. B.C. Rich also made me a Seagull, which I used occasionally. The Seagull was stolen at the Boston Airport. DiMarzio was making these super-hot pickups for me. They were wound specially for me and Steve.

Photo of Dick Wagner 1974 while with  Lou Reed.
[above] 1974 whilst with Lou Reed

LITTLE BIT OF HISTORY
As one of renowned producer Bob Ezrin's hired guns throughout much of the '70s, guitarist Dick Wagner lent his playing (and in some cases, songwriting) talents to some of the decade's biggest hard rock albums, including Lou Reed's Rock N Roll Animal, Alice Cooper's Welcome to My Nightmare, and Kiss' Destroyer. Hailing from the Detroit area, Wagner's first true band, the Frost, formed in the late '60s as they built up a substantial following in the Michigan area (which at the time also nurtured such other outfits as the Stooges, MC5, Bob Seger, Ted Nugent, and Grand Funk Railroad, to name a few), and issued a total of three albums during their tenure together: 1969's Frost Music and Rock and Roll Music, plus 1970's Through the Eyes of Love. Ezrin used Wgner & Hunter on Lou Reed's controversial 1973 studio release Berlin (a dark concept album that followed a pair of seedy characters beset by drug addiction, which leads to spousal abuse, prostitution, child welfare, and ultimately, death).
Seeking to lighten the mood a bit on the album's ensuing tour, Ezrin aided Reed in assembling a stellar touring band including both Wagner and Hunter, who helped reconstruct Reed's tunes (including classics from his Velvet Underground days) as jamming arena rockers, as evidenced by a pair of subsequent live releases, 1974's classic Rock N Roll Animal and 1975's Lou Reed Live. Wagner and Hunter then signed on as guitarists for Alice Cooper's solo group (Cooper had just split from the original Alice Cooper Band), while Wagner also served as a songwriting collaborator with Cooper for his hit 1975 release Welcome to My Nightmare. The album spawned a hit power ballad with "Only Women Bleed," a tune which Wagner had penned back in the late '60s, and has subsequently covered by numerous artists over the years, including Etta James, Tina Turner, and Lita Ford, among others. The Wagner/Cooper union lasted for several other albums in the mid- to late '70s, including Goes to Hell, The Alice Cooper Show, Lace and Whiskey, and From the Inside, while Wagner continued to lend his talents to recordings by other artists: Aerosmith's Get Your Wings (it's supposedly Wagner and Hunter playing the "guitar duel" on "Train Kept a Rollin'"), Kiss' Destroyer, Peter Garbriel's self-titled solo debut, Hall & Oates' Along the Red Ledge, Mark Farner's self-titled solo debut, and a pair of albums for the star of The Rocky Horror Picture Show, Tim Curry. In 1977, Wagner found the time to issue a self-titled solo release for Atlantic Records.
Wagner reunited with Cooper and Ezrin for a pair of overlooked releases in the early '80s, 1982's Zipper Catches Skin and 1983's Da Da, as Wagner focused solely on his songwriting throughout the remainder of the decade, penning songs for such artists as Meatloaf, Air Supply, and Lee Aaron (as well as an unreleased song recorded by Rod Stewart), plus penning the theme song (titled "Remember the Child") for the Emmy nominated PBS special Homecoming, which examined the lasting scars of child abuse. In addition, Wagner has created his own recording studio, Downtown Digital Studios, runs the Wagner Music Group record label, and also plays out live with his own solo group, the Dick Wagner Band, in the Michigan area (even reuniting with his original band, the Frost, for several gigs). In 2002, Wagner reissued his long out of print solo debut from 1977, under the new title The Atlantic Sessions. ~
Greg Prato All Music Guide
Photo: Dick Wagner while with Alice Cooper
[above] Dick Wagner with the Alice Cooper Band

DISCOGRAPHY

1964-67 The Bossmen Various Singles Guitar, Vocals, Composer
1967-68 The Fabulous Pack I've Got News For You/Wide Trackin' (singles) Composer
1967 Dick Wagner and the Frosts Rainy Day/Bad Girl (singles) Composer
1967 Dick Wagner and the Frosts Sunshine/Little Girl (singles) Composer
1967 The Cherry Slush I Cannot Stop You (single) Composer, Producer
1968 Elation Fields Light Side Table/Heat Wave (singles) Producer and Arranger
1969 The FROST Frost Music Guitar, Vocals, Composer
1969 The FROST Rock and Roll Music Guitar, Vocals, Composer
1970 The FROST Through the Eyes of Love Guitar, Vocals, Songs, Producer
1972 Ursa Major Ursa Major Guitar, Vocals, Composer
1972 Alice
Cooper, School's Out Guitar
1972 Ursa Major Let The Music Play - Single Guitar, Vocals, Composer
1973 Alice Cooper, Billion Dollar Babies Guitar
1973 Alice Cooper, Muscle of Love Guitar
1973 Elliott Murphy, Aquashow Vocals, Vocals (bckgr)
1973 Flo & Eddie Flo & Eddie Guitar, Composer
1973 Lou Reed, Berlin Guitar, Guitar, Vocals
1974 Aerosmith Get Your Wings Guitar
1974 Alice Cooper, Greatest Hits Guitar
1974 Justin Paige, Justin Paige Guitar
1974 Lou Reed, Rock & Roll Animal Guitar, BkgVocals
1975 Lou Reed, Lou Reed Live Guitar, BkgVocals
1975 Alice Cooper, Welcome to My Nightmare Guitar, Vocals, Composer
1975 Alice Cooper, Alice Cooper Goes to Hell Guitar, Arranger, Vocals, Concept, Composer
1976 KISS Destroyer Guitar
1977 Alice Cooper, The Alice Cooper Show Guitar, Composer, Bkg Vocals
1977 Alice Cooper, Lace & Whiskey Guitar
1977 Peter Gabriel, Peter Gabriel [car on cover] Guitar, Bkg Vocals
1977 Peter Gabriel, Solsbury Hill (single) Guitar
1977 Richard Wagner, Richard Wagner Guitar, Composer
1978 Tim Curry, Read My Lips Guitar
1978 Etta
James, Deep In The Night Composer
1978 Burton Cummings, Dream of a Child Guitar
1978 The FROST Early Frost Guitar, Vocals, Producer, Composer
1978 Mark Farner, Mark Farner Guitar, Producer, Composer
1978 Ray Manzarek, The Whole Thing Started from Rock and Roll, Guitar,
1978 Alice Cooper, From the Inside, Guitar, Composer
1978 Hall & Oates Along the Red Ledge Guitar
1978/9 Alice Cooper, Alice Cooper, Guitar
1979 Tim Curry, Fearless Guitar, Producer, Composer
198? Jolly Brothers Jolly Brothers Guitar, Producer, Composer, Arranger
1982 Alice Cooper, Zipper Catches Skin Guitar, Composer
1983 Alice Cooper, Da Da Guitar, Bass Guitar BkgVocals, Composer
1983 Meatloaf Midnight at the Lost and Found Composer
1984 Patti Austin, Patti Austin Composer
1984 Jah Mahla, Jah Mahla Guitar
1985 Muppets Welcome To My Nightmare Composer
1985 Air Supply Air Supply Composer
1986 Lee Aaron Call of the Wild Composer
1986 Etta James, The Late Show Composer
1986 Meatloaf Blind Before I Stop Composer
1988 Paolo Fresu Only Women Bleed Composer
198? Rod Stewart (unreleased) Composer
198? Fiona (unreleased) Composer
1989 Tim Curry Best of Tim Curry Guitar, Composer
1990 The Throbs, The Language of Vagabonds Producer
1990 Lita Ford, Stilletto Composer
1991 Alice Cooper, Hey Stoopid Guitar
1991 John Bradshaw, Homecoming PBS Television Theme Song Composer
1991 Richard Wagner, Remember the Child LP Composer, Guitar, Vocals, Producer
1992 Lita Ford, The Best Of Lita Ford Composer, Producer
1992 Richard Wagner, Creating Love Composer, Producer
1992 Kiss Revenge Guitar
1992 Lou Reed, Between Thought and Expression: The Lou Reed Anthology Guitar
1992 Peter Gabriel, Revisited Guitar, Vocals
1992 70's Greatest Rock Hits:Vol.2 Heavy Hitters 70's Greatest Rock Hits:Vol.2 Heavy Hitters Guitar, Vocals, Composer
1993 John Bradshaw, Creating Love PBS Television
1993 Monsters of Rock Monsters of Rock: Vol. 1 Guitar, Composer
1993 Bill Kennedy's Showtime Rock N Roll Music Composer
1993 John Farnham, Then Again (Only Women Bleed) Composer
1993 Steve Perry, (unreleased) Guitar, Composer, Producer
1993 Carmen McCrae, Only Women Bleed Composer
1993 Elvira Presents: Haunted Hits Composer, Guitar
1994 Bossmen, The The Bossmen Guitar, Vocals, Composer, Producer
1994 Burton Cummings, The Burton Cummings Collection Guitar
1994 Tina Turner, Only Women Bleed Composer
1995 Richard Wagner, Rock Hitstory: PROFILE Composer, Producer, All Instruments
1995 Cleveland International, Just Us Girls Cleveland Int'l Records Guitar, Producer
1995 Meatloaf The Definitive Collection Guitar, Composer
1995 Only Love: 1975-1979 You and Me Guitar, Composer
1995 Alice Cooper, Classicks Guitar, Composer
1996 Omar & the Howlers World Wide Open Composer
1996 Forever Pop: Vol. 1 Only Women Bleed Guitar, Composer
1996 Only Rock N Roll: 75-79 Only Women Bleed Guitar, Composer
1996 Rhumba Shine Silently Composer
1996 Eva Svobodova Only Women Bleed Composer
1997 Vanguard Collector's Ed Vanguard Collector's Edition Guitar, Vocals
1997 Omar & the Howlers Monkeyland Composer
1997 Ruth Copeland, Take Me to Baltimore Composer
1997 Michigan Rocks Michigan Rocks (bootleg) Guitar, Composer
1997 Legends of Guitar: Rock Legends of Guitar: Rock 70s, Vol. 1 Guitar
1997 Matt Besey Matt Besey Piano, Producer
1997 Nils Lofgren, Shine Silently Composer
1997 Nils Lofgren, Code Of The Road: Greatest Hits Composer
1998 Brother Love Brother Love Producer
1998 Sonic Vibe Sonic Vibe Producer
1998 Love Rocks You And Me Guitar, Composer
1998 Alice Cooper, Prime Cuts DVD Guitar, Composer
1999 Christine Smith River of Grace Producer
1999 The FROST This Band Can Rock And Roll Forever Guitarist, Producer, Composer
1999 Gwen Goodman Down on My Knees Producer
1999 Church of the Open Bottle Church of the Open Bottle Producer
1999 Alice Cooper, The Life and Crimes of Alice Cooper Guitar, Vocals,Writer
1999 Aegri Somnia Aegri Somnia Producer, Engineer
1999 Humanary Stew Tribute to Alice Cooper Composer, Guitarist
1999 Alice Cooper, Super Hits Composer, Guitarist
1999 Pop In The 70's Vol. 2. Only Women Bleed Composer, Guitarist
1999 Felicity Soundtrack Here Comes The Flood Bkg. Vocals, Guitarist
1999 Etta James, Heart Of A Woman Composer
1999 Alice Cooper, Welcome To My Nightmare DVD Composer, Guitarist, Bkg. Vocals
1999 Air Supply The Definitive Collection Composer
1999 Various Artists Hits of the 70's Composer, Guitar, Bkg. Vocals
1999 Bill Kalmar Bill Kalmar Producer
2000 The Jim Cummings Band The Jim Cummings Band Producer, Composer
2000 Flatline Flatline Producer
2000 Broke Broke Producer
2000 Meatloaf Simply The Best Composer
2000 Perpetual Jones Perpetual Jones Producer
2000 Darin Scott, Darin Scott Producer, Composer
2000 Laura Morris, Summer Days Guitar, Composer
2001 Carol Guarino, Carol Guarino, Guitar, Composer
2001 Dick Wagner, Remember The Child Guitar, Composer
2001 AliceCooper, Monsters & Mascara Guitar, Composer
2001 Dave Wagner, (unreleased) Guitar, Arranger
2001 Solid Rock Solid Rock Live Producer
2001 Robert Wagner, (unreleased) Guitar, Composer, Arranger
2001 Gwen Goodman, Gwen Goodman Live Producer
2001 Bleedstreet Roots Guitar, Producer
2002 Robert Wagner, Robert Wagner Producer
2002 Janis Leigh, Runnin' On Fumes Composer, Producer, Arranger
2002 Darin Scott, Views From Mulholland Producer, Arranger, Kybds.
2003
Skinner Rat In The Box Guitar
2007 Wensday Torch Rock Guitar, Songwriter, Composer, Arranger, Producer

Quote March 2004: "The 27th we’ll be back at Whites Bar in Saginaw for another round of original music in a smoke filled down home environment where I can really let loose on my Black Beauty." Where he plays regular gigs. So I hope I am right Dick, this is your Black Beauty below.

Dick Wagner with his Black Beauty I hope!!

LATEST UPDATES

2005, Dick permanently moved to Phoenix, Arizona, where he is currently writing again with Alice Cooper for a new album.
2006, This summer, Dick started to produce a talented young singer Miss Wensday. Wensday has a rich voice, singing jazz to blues to rock, but is a classically trained singer, and has studied both opera and jazz. Dick spent most of the summer and fall immersed in the writing songs, composing music and the production of Wensday's CD. With Dick on guitar, Wensday made her debut performance December 16th at Alice Cooper's Christmas Pudding. This is Alice's annual charity concert to benefit The Solid Rock Foundation For Children.
2007
February 28th, "Torch Rock", the debut album by powerhouse pop/rock/blues/jazz singer Wensday is released; which Dick produced, wrote/co-wrote and played lead guitar. He has told friends and associates he feels that "Torch Rock" is one of the finest works of his career, and it has certainly taken him into a very different genre, if not new genre. Dick has created some really powerful music on this CD. Torch Rock also includes Wensday singing an amazing bluesy, soulful rendition of “Only Women Bleed,” one of Dick's groundbreaking collaborations with Alice Cooper.
July 3rd, only a week after appearing live on stage in Phoenix with Wensday, promoting "Torch Rock", Dick suffered a massive heart attack at his Arizona home. He spent five days in intensive care on a life support machine. His kidneys had failed and his left arm and hand were rended completely useless. He was given angioplasty to remove blockage and later had a pacemaker implanted.
July 8th, the good news came that Dick is expected to make a full recovery.
July 23rd, Suzy Michelson, Dick’s close
friend and one of his two partners in the Phoenix based label Desert Dreams Records, emailed QUOTE: "the great news is that Dick is recovering. As of today, he is no longer in hospital, but he is now in rehabilitation to rebuild strength in his left arm. He will soon be back in action."
When Dick is fit again, he will be recording some new music with Steve Hunter and Fred Mandel (of the "Welcome to My Nightmare" band) for the upcoming Wagner/Hunter documentary, which also features Alice. That is something NOT to be missed.

Dick Wagner with singer Wensday

" Visit Dick Wagner "

Desert Dream Production + purchase "Torch Rock"

Torch Rock on CD Baby

Dick Wagner + Band & Wensday: Bulldaog Blues

Dick Wagner + Band & Wensday: It's My Body

Wensday’s official website

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