||This biographical article needs additional citations for verification. (November 2009)|
|Birth name||Richard Allen Wagner|
December 14, 1942 |
in Oelwein, Iowa, U.S.
|Genres||Rock, hard rock, heavy metal, shock rock|
|Occupations||Singer-songwriter, guitarist, producer|
|Associated acts||The Frost, URSA Major, Alice Cooper|
Dick Wagner (born December 14, 1942, in Oelwein, Iowa) is an American rock music guitarist, songwriter and author best known for his work with Alice Cooper, Lou Reed, and KISS. He also fronted his own Michigan-based bands, the Frost and the Bossmen.
Wagner grew up in the Saginaw, Michigan, area. His 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 played on the Rock 'n' Roll Animal live album. Soon after, producer Bob Ezrin brought both Wagner and 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, the 1975 Welcome to My Nightmare the 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 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" was in production in 2009, but never completed.
In 1978, Wagner released a solo LP called Richard Wagner on Atlantic Records. A lack of promotion saw the album relegated to the cut-out bin. Wagner has also played lead guitar or written songs for Lou Reed's Berlin, 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.
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, Wagner played the song for him, and Cooper penned new lyrics shortly after and recorded it for his album Welcome to My Nightmare. Tina Turner, Etta James, Guns N' Roses, Lita Ford, and Tori Amos have covered this song.
Two other ballads co-written by Wagner brought him public recognition as a 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 "I Might As Well Be on Mars", again with Alice Cooper, which featured on his 1991 album Hey Stoopid.
Recent life and career
Wagner moved to Phoenix, Arizona in 2005 where he was writing with Alice Cooper for a new album. In 2007 he suffered a major heart attack. Since then he has partially recovered and worked with Wensday on the album Torch Rock, released on his independent record label Desert Dreams Records. Her debut album, produced by Wagner, was included in the 2007 50th Anniversary Grammy Awards ballot.
During Wagner's recovery from his 2007 heart attack, unusual symptoms manifested, including difficultly walking and concentrating, threatening his music career. In 2011, Wagner was diagnosed with Normal pressure hydrocephalus, a type of dementia which affects, among other things, fine motor skills and gait. After successful treatment in 2012, Wagner was able to make a significant recovery, regaining almost all of the dexterity which had been lost over the course of the disorder's progression.
Dick Wagner's former band the Frost was voted into the Michigan Rock and Roll Legends online Hall of Fame in 2008. The group's recording of "Mystery Man", a Wagner composition, was voted a Legendary Michigan Song in 2009. He continued to recover from his near-fatal heart attack and recorded with long-time collaborator Steve Hunter on an unnamed single for Wensday.
Wagner released a new CD in October 2009, called Full Meltdown on Desert Dreams Records. It features 15 lost and newly discovered songs recorded by Wagner between 1979 and 1995. He also produced the band Warsaw Pact and the independent artist Brandon Bullard with releases from both 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. Similar to his original work on the first Alice Cooper solo album Welcome to My Nightmare, Dick also contributed lead guitar to the final track, "The Underture", from the album Welcome 2 My Nightmare. It represents instrumental versions of several songs from each album.
In 2012, Wagner's memoirs, Not Only Women Bleed, Vignettes from the Heart of a Rock Musician, were released to tremendous acclaim, spending more than two weeks at No. 1 on Amazon.com's Hot New Releases in Biographies & Memoirs of Entertainers.
Wagner looked into working with Detroit band Shock Wave, who he feels is much more talented than the group's members young age would suggest.
In November 2013, Wagner released his song and video tribute, “If I Had the Time (I Could Change the World)”, on various digital download sites to raise money for St. Jude Children's Research Hospital. Wagner gathered more than 50 musicians to record at Sunset Sound Studios in Los Angeles, including Mark Farner on lead vocals; Danny Seraphine on drums; Lee Sklar; Fred Mandel on piano; Elliot Easton; Jennifer Batten; and Trini Lopez on lead vocals.
In November 2011 Wagner, along with Detroit musicians Ray Goodman, Dennis Burr, Prakash John, Jim McCarty, Johnny Bee Badanjek, Jimmie Bones, Ty Stone, Robert Wagner, Muruga, and Pat Lewis, recorded Motor City Music at Harmonie Park Studios in Detroit in support of Franciscan monk Brother Al Mascia's "Bicycle Ministry." Mascia peddles a bicycle cart around the streets of downtown Detroit, delivering hot drinks, food and warm clothing to the homeless. The donated proceeds enable Brother Al to purchase additional supplies.
Wagner is also the First Artist Ambassador for Guitars for Vets.
- Dick Wagner interview "October 10, 2010 interview on Outsight Radio Hours"
- http://gma.yahoo.com/rock-star-curable-dementia-nearly-loses-career-005311950--abc-news-health.html Rock Star with 'curable' dementia nearly loses career
- ALICE COOPER, DICK WAGNER Music Featured In Horror Film 'Silas Gore'
- "Dick Wagner on Outsight Radio Hours". Archive.org. Retrieved December 2, 2012.
- Hot New Releases in Biographies & Memoirs of Entertainers
- Guitars for Vets
- Official website
- Production Company
- Dick Wagner at the Internet Movie Database
- Interview on Outsight Radio Hours