Legendary Lead Guitar Player
Award Winning Author
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Known to fans and friends as, “The Maestro of Rock,” Dick Wagner’s songs and lead guitar have been featured on more than 350 renowned albums, garnering more than 35 Platinum and Gold records, BMI songwriter awards, and numerous prestigious international awards.
The Detroit area native helped define an era in rock history by playing lead guitar or writing songs for Alice Cooper, Aerosmith, Kiss, Lou Reed, The Frost, Peter Gabriel, Meat Loaf, Steve Perry, Etta James, Rod Stewart, Tina Turner, Air Supply, Hall & Oates, Ringo Starr, Guns & Roses, Tori Amos, Frank Sinatra, and dozens of others.
Legendary for his groundbreaking collaborations with Alice Cooper, Wagner was musical director, lead guitarist and co-writer of the icon’s biggest hits, including “Only Women Bleed,” “You and Me,” “I Never Cry,” and “Welcome To My Nightmare.” Wagner was Cooper’s right hand man on such groundbreaking albums as, Welcome to My Nightmare, Alice Cooper Goes to Hell, Lace and Whiskey, From the Inside, and DaDa.
Together, Cooper and Wagner co-wrote the majority of Alice Cooper’s top selling singles and albums, including more than 50 songs featured on 60 Alice Cooper albums released worldwide. As a teenage musician living an hour north of Detroit Michigan, Dick Wagner enjoyed his first taste of “big time show biz,” when he was asked to play guitar as backup for some of his musical heroes, including Jerry Lee Lewis, Roy Orbison and Little Richard. Great balls of fire!
GIBSON.com Top 50 Guitar Solos of all Time: The guitar tandem of Dick Wagner and Steve Hunter has been celebrated with TWO positions in Gibson.com’s “Top 50 Guitar Solos of all Time,” for their extraordinary guitar work among guitar legends, Jimi Hendrix, Jimmy Page, Eric Clapton, Jeff Beck, and Eddie Van Halen. http://bit.ly/1fjpxiI
Multi-Award winning Author and Speaker: Wagner’s memoir, NOT ONLY WOMEN BLEED, Vignettes from the Heart of a Rock Musician (with foreword by Alice Cooper) has beenhonored with FIVE international book awards. www.notonlywomenbleed.com
ROCKERS FOR ST. JUDE: “We Are the World” for 2013: Wagner gathered together more than 50rockers from across the history of rock ‘n roll to record his song for St. Jude Children’s ResearchHospital, “If I Had the Time (I Could Change the World).” The All Star band features Dick Wagner, Mark Farner (Grand Funk Railroad), Trini Lopez, Elliot Easton (The Cars), DannySeraphine (Chicago), Lee Sklar (James Taylor), Fred Mandel (Elton John), Merrilee Rush(Angel of the Morning), among many more. Video: http://bit.ly/1ioaoMF Proceeds benefit St. Jude.
Along with his work for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital and charitable organizationssupporting women and children, Dick Wagner is the First Ambassador for Guitars4vets.org,and National Spokesperson for the Hydrocephalus Association www.HydroAssoc.org. Wagner actively supports the programs of Franciscan monk, Brother Al Masciawww.brotheral.com in his Bicycle Ministry and Care’avan, serving the poor and homeless ofthe Detroit tri-county region.
The Michigan public first took notice of Wagner’s talent in 1964, when he formed the band The Bossmen, whose songs like “Baby Boy” were #1 radio favorites in Michigan. Soon Wagner was writing and producing for other Michigan bands. In the late 1960s, as Wagner’s work became more complex and featured a harder edge, he formed the wildly popular band, The Frost, recording his first three Billboard charted albums and drawing enthusiastic crowds to hear songs like “Mystery Man” and “Rock and Roll Music.”
Wagner moved to New York to form Ursa Major, a seminal rock band and power trio that recorded one, self-titled, defining album for RCA. The raw musical power and artistry of Ursa Major inspired a generation of rock musicians and remains an influential album for today’s musicians. Little known factoid: the original Ursa Major lineup included Wagner on guitar and Billy Joel on keyboards, but dramas in Billy’s personal life intervened and he left the band.
Wagner’s guitar virtuosity captured the attention of Lou Reed, and he was invited to play on Lou’s European Berlin tour in 1973. Wagner assembled a powerhouse band including Steve Hunter and Wagner on dueling lead guitars, Prakash John on bass, Pentti Glan on drums, and Ray Colcord on keyboards. The live album, Rock N’ Roll Animal, recorded at the Brooklyn Academy of Music, remains one of the most celebrated and influential guitar albums in rock history. Lauded by Rolling Stone, Billboard, and the international press, Rock ‘N’ Roll Animal was described by renowned music critic, Robert Christgau: “This is a live album with a reason for living.”
In 1972, producer Bob Ezrin brought Wagner in to play lead guitar solos on Alice Cooper’s breakthrough School’s Out album. Uncredited at the time, Wagner’s guitar solos were attributed to the Alice Cooper band. The Cooper-Wagner songwriting collaboration began with “I Love the Dead,” released on Cooper’s Billion Dollar Babies album. Cooper and Wagner began a prolific collaboration that spanned several decades. Together, the Cooper-Wagner songwriting team wrote 7 out of 9 of Cooper’s Top 10 hit records.
Leaving Lou Reed in 1974, Wagner moved the entire Rock N Roll Animal band over to play with Alice Cooper. The first full album written and recorded by the Cooper-Wagner team, “Welcome to My Nightmare,” spawned a number of Top 10 singles. The Welcome to My Nightmare tour, with a road crew of more than 45 persons, private jets, technical wizardry, theatrical showmanship, and extravagant staging and lighting, became the biggest and highest grossing rock tour of its time. Shock rock was born.
With Wagner’s studio walls lined with gold and platinum awards, he writes with the observant eye of a world traveled artist. Asked what song he is most proud of, Wagner recounts this story... In the late 1980’s, he was commissioned to write music by the San Antonio Commission on Child Abuse. Wagner’s poignant composition, “Remember the Child,” painfully reflects the pain of child abuse, written from the first person soul of a child. Renowned author/lecturer John Bradshaw discovered the song and chose it as his theme for the Emmy nominated PBS special, Homecoming. The song has since become the anthem for tens of thousands who have been scarred by child abuse, and is a catalytic tool used by many therapists in helping their patients access their hidden suffering of childhood trauma.
In 2005, Wagner relocated to Phoenix to form a new production company, Desert Dreams Productions, LLC, with partners, Susan Michelson and Alex Cyrell, entrepreneurs and founders of Omnimount Systems and Future Primitive Designs. A full service record label and artist management company, Desert Dreams specializes in “Music Production and Artist Development for the extraordinary Artist.”
SURVIVOR: But Wagner’s big story is also that of survival—both personal and professional. Wagner had already survived two heart attacks (one DOA), a stroke, a paralyzed left arm, kidney failure, diabetes, a pacemaker, and more. But his health continued to deteriorate. For more than eight years, he suffered from undiagnosed issues: a shuffling walk, dementia, dizziness, urinary incontinence, and falling. Physically disabled and unable to play guitar, he was left feeling hopeless and “drying up in the desert.” And then, in 2010, a CT scan revealed that Wagner was suffering from Normal Pressure Hydrocephalus (NPH) ‒ a treatable condition with excellent prognosis.
Wagner consulted with renowned neurosurgeon, Dr. Joseph Zabramski at Barrow Neurological Institute in Phoenix AZ. Zabramski greeted Wagner with, “Dick Wagner, I love your guitar solos! And by the way, you have hydrocephalus.” In 2011, “Dr. Z” performed two brain surgeries on “the Maestro.” With a permanent shunt in his brain, Wagner's recovery felt miraculous. Within hours, his dire symptoms receded, and he found that ‒ not only could he walk again, but he could also play guitar again! Only five weeks after brain surgery, Wagner was back on the road touring with his 7-piece rock band. Wagner’s return to live performance has been a celebration of packed venues, overjoyed fans and critical media acclaim.
Nearly fifty years after launching his storied and dynamic career, hit songwriter, guitar virtuoso, producer, and award winning author, Dick Wagner, remains a brilliant, prolific, and vibrant creative force. Whether rock, blues, country, jazz or spiritual, Wagner’s songs continue to detail the essence of life. His guitar playing continues to inspire guitarists worldwide, and his production values recall the era of great songs with great melodies and universally accessible lyrics.
ROCK ROYALTY and JOURNALISTS on DICK WAGNER:
“I first saw Dick Wagner while he was playing with The Frost and quickly filed him under ‘Guitar players I’d like to steal. But Dick isn’t JUST a guitar player. He’s a gifted writer, and I wrote most of the Alice Cooper Hits with him."
“Name your all-time favorite rock guitar solos and chances are at least one of them will include the legendary Dick Wagner.”
DAVID FOSTER, Producer (Celine Dion, Josh Groban, Whitney Houston)
My go-to musician and writer on the majority of my projects in the 70s and 80s and now again in the new millennium.”
BOB EZRIN, Producer (Pink Floyd, Alice Cooper, KISS)
“Dick Wagner has always been celebrated as a soulful guitar force to reckon with. From his brilliant work with Alice Cooper and beyond, Dick has forever projected an earthly musical spirit that is pure American R&R & R&B. He is one of the best guitarists in the world.”
TED NUGENT, Rocker
“The Invisible Virtuoso: Wagner's unique rock and roll journey is a touchstone in American music history.”
James Campion, Huffington Post
“I could count the number of "Go-to" guitar players in this country on half a hand. Dick Wagner is one of them.”
Jack Douglas, Producer (Aerosmith, John Lennon)
Gibson.com Top 50 Guitar Solos of All Time #25 “Sweet Jane” (live), Lou Reed (Dick Wagner, Steve Hunter) “What makes a great guitar solo? Is it mind-melting precision or bone-chilling soul? Is it the way it can leave you slack-jawed, wondering, ’How did he do that?’” “When your recording session needed some monster guitar solos, you called Wagner and Hunter first. Period. Just ask Kiss. Or better yet, ask Aerosmith.”
Vintage Guitar Magazine
“Unparalleled ability to chisel memorable riffs, brilliant leads, power chords and even pastoral acoustic
textures. Along with the guitar acrobatics, Wagner crunches out hard rock along with power-rock ballads.”
Music Business Monthly
“Heavy, thrilling without threatening to stupefy...The made-in-Detroit guitars of Steve Hunter and Dick Wagner
mesh naturally with the unnatural rhythms, and Reed shouts with no sacrifice of wit....This is a live album with a
reason for living.”
ROBERT CHRISTGAU, Christgau's Record Guide
“’Aerosmith’s 'Train Kept a Rollin’ might never have left the station if Wagner’s playing wasn’t so dangerously off the rails. And Kiss’ ‘Great Expectations’ could have been anti-climactic if he didn’t lay down the elegant solo. But more than just hot solos, Wagner brought intricate arrangements and even a hit song or two (Alice Cooper’s ‘Only Women Bleed’ and You and Me, etc.) to the table.”
Daniel Siwek, Music Connection Magazine
"Dick Wagner is one of the icons of rock.”
Bob Ludwig, Gateway Mastering, Co-chairman, Producers & Engineers Wing, NARAS (Grammys)
“Riff This Way: Aerosmith’s Top 10 Riff-Heavy Tracks,” Gibson.com Dick Wagner Guitar Solos: RIFF #1:
“Same Old Song and Dance,” Dick Wagner. Also RIFF #4: “Train Kept A Rollin’” Dick Wagner
“One of the best guitar players ever. And one of the greatest people ever. Mr. Wagner. You more than rock.”
LITA FORD, Rocker
Dick is one of the great rocker guitar players to come out of Detroit in the 70s. It's wonderful to work with someone where the music still retains its joy. That's magic.”
Steve Hunter (Alice Cooper, Lou Reed, Peter Gabriel)
“Steve Hunter and Dick Wagner were as potent a duo as Keith Richards and Mick Taylor, and the four make up the ‘Golden Era’ of both The Rolling Stones and Lou Reed, that period when the recordings were beyond magical....Lou’s 9/1/73 show still rates as numero uno in my book, for presentation, drama, craftsmanship and sheer rock and roll energy.”
JOE VIGLIONE, Allmusic.com
A sampling of BOOK REVIEWS for NOT ONLY WOMEN BLEED,
Vignettes from the Heart of a Rock Musician
By Dick Wagner. Foreword by Alice Cooper
Wagner’s memoirs were released to tremendous acclaim, spending more than two weeks at #1 on Amazon.com’s Hot New Releases in Biographies & Memoirs of Entertainers. “Not Only Women Bleed” has been honored with FIVE prestigious international book awards.
"Informed, informative, entertaining, and candid...highly recommended...and a 'must read' to the legions of Dick Wagner fans with an interest in his life and times!"
THE MIDWEST BOOK REVIEW
"A fine new book...I think books like these—especially when penned by the performers themselves—will eventually be perceived as real jewels. Highly recommended.”
DAVE DIMARTINO, YAHOO MUSIC
"Absolutely anyone into rock and roll will find more than enough in both style and substance to enjoy Wagner's trip into rock's dark and electric corners. If you can only read two or three good memoirs this year, Not Only Women Bleed should be on that list."
Dr. Wesley Britton, BOOKPLEASURES.COM
“This is no pandering or self-serving, ghost-written "auto-biography" that sanitizes the past to protect the "author" or amplifies the glamor and excesses to sell units. It's witty, artful, literate, sometimes cheeky, often philosophical and profound, gentle and loving, wistful and exuberant but, above all, musical. Reading this will certainly entertain anyone who has an interest in the "Roman" era of the music business. But it also offers insights into the complex and often insane life of the musician celebrity... In its honesty it does encompass sex, drugs and rock'n'roll - but also pain, yearning, sacrifice, adventure, growth and the joy of creating.”
BOB EZRIN (Producer, PINK FLOYD, ALICE COOPER)
“Wagner takes the reader on a highly entertaining and compelling emotional roller-coaster ride that seemingly leaves no stone unturned. ‘Not Only Women Bleed’ is almost impossible to put down.”
RYAN SPARKS, CLASSIC ROCK REVISITED
“Dick Wagner triumphantly brings us a high octane, balls to the wall, brilliantly arranged mosaic of interrelated true adventures -- successfully and authentically capturing a passionate, unyielding essence across an extended timeline -- taking his readers into the most inner circles of hedonistically holy Rock & Roll -- wild and wanton beyond imagination. Thank you, Dick, for creating your music through the years and now, even more importantly, sharing your magical mind with unparalleled purity. Encore, Maestro. ENCORE!”
Peter Cavanaugh, Author, DJ, journalist
That Poetry Muse “There are few people who truly have what I call “poetry in their souls” (that poetic muse than can poignantly portray our most important human experiences and give us goose bumps). Dick Wagner has that poetry. I have used his songs with millions of people who were abused in childhood... Wagner’s music touches people in a way that literally transforms their lives. Not Only Women Bleed is another soul touching work that will change your life.” Dr. John Bradshaw, NY Times Best Selling Author, Motivational Speaker
“It’s wicked, but I loved it.” Anonymous Church Lady.