Dick Wagner
Gig Seeker Pro

Dick Wagner

Scottsdale, Arizona, United States | INDIE

Scottsdale, Arizona, United States | INDIE
Band Rock Singer/Songwriter


This band has not uploaded any videos
This band has not uploaded any videos



""When your recording session needed some monster guitar solos, you called Wagner and Hunter first. Period. Just ask Kiss. Or better yet, ask Aerosmith.""

Dick Wagner and Steve Hunter

The Great Guitars of

By Greg Pedersen

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.

Indeed, Wagner and Hunter were the session community’s dynamic duo during the era of cocaine and casual wear. When your recording session needed some monster guitar solos, you called Wagner and Hunter first. Period. Just ask Kiss. Or better yet, ask Aerosmith. After the post-Van Halen explosion, however, the need for high-octane blues players like Wagner and Hunter diminished significantly.

Thankfully, both guitarists are still active in professional music circles. Check out Wagner’s beautiful reworking of songs he penned with Alice Cooper and others on his retrospective release HITStory. If you’re in L.A., check out Hunter’s killer blues outfit, The Blues Counsel. Certainly, we have not heard the last of these two guitar icons.

Dick Wagner

Vintage Guitar:You’ve done tons of session work for many of rock’s most notable talents. Let’s start with your tenure in Lou Reed’s band, sharing lead guitar chores with your longtime partner in crime, Steve Hunter.

Dick Wagner:That band definitely took Lou Reed into a different direction. Reed talks bad about the Rock and Roll Animal and Lou Reed, Live albums we played on, now. He puts that whole era down. Well, in every place we ever played back then, the press was always putting down Lou Reed and talking about the great guitars of Hunter and Wagner. He hated that! He came to us during the tour and made us stop playing to the audience and entertaining them because we were stealing his show. We didn’t mean to, we were just hot! We did a lot of great work together and I’m very proud of it. Playing guitar with Steve Hunter was one of the highlights of my career.

How did you and Steve meet?

We were aware of each other in Detroit, when he was playing with Mitch Ryder and I was playing with The Frost (a Michigan band that enjoyed success in the late ’60s), which was real popular in the Midwest. Then, we met in Ft. Lauderdale, where my band, Ursa Major, was playing a club. We talked, and I invited him to come up onstage and play. It sounded fabulous right away! At times, it was hard to tell who played which parts, but it was real distinctive.

Have you talked to Hunter lately?

Actually, Steve and I have talked about doing an album together.

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.

Although your tenure with Reed is historically significant, it was your longtime partnership with Alice Cooper that really etched your name in the history books. When did you first meet Alice?

I knew Alice back in Detroit, when The Frost was really huge. He was just getting started. We were playing this high school gig and Alice came back in the dressing room and introduced himself. He loved The Frost.

The first time I heard Alice live was at the Toledo Pop Festival, when he was doing the electric chair. I couldn’t believe it! The Frost was a pretty straightforward rock and roll band, and Alice’s band was definitely a little weird! I’ve always loved theatrics in rock, though. It seems most of the records I’ve played on are with pretty theatrical people.

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.

Tell me the circumstances surrounding your entrance into Alice Cooper’s band.

In 1975, his management asked me to put together a new band. So I asked all the guys who I played with in Lou Reed’s Rock and Roll Animal band – Steve, Prakash John, and Pentti Glan – to become Alice Cooper’s new band. They brought us in to make a change in the development of the Cooper sound – make more complicated, better songs. They wanted a tighter band. This wasn’t just a rock and roll band out there, flailing away. We approached the stage playing the same way we approached the studio: let the parts make sense and let them all work together. The early Alice Cooper band tried hard, but they weren’t as great of players as our band. We were just better at it. It was a fabulous band from the beginning.

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.

Let’s discuss the classic Alice Cooper albums you played a major role in shaping, beginning with Welcome To My Nightmare.

Alice and I decided to go to the Bahamas to write this album. The day we arrived, we got caught in the middle of this mini-hurricane. The winds were 70 miles an hour, 24 hours a day. We sat on this lawn with an acoustic guitar and I started playing this riff (hums beginning of Welcome To My Nightmare). Suddenly, Alice goes, “...welcome to my nightmare.” We both started laughing because we were in the middle of this nightmarish weather! At that point, we got the idea of Alice having a nightmare and that became the concept for the record. Musically, we could go anywhere with Alice’s image and the idea of a concept album.

Probably one of the most influential and covered songs from that album is the ballad “Only Women Bleed.” How did you and Cooper write it?

I wrote the music for “Only Women Bleed” in 1968, but the lyrics were really sucky. When I first got together with Alice in ’75, I played him this tape with pieces of my music on it. When we got to the song, he said “Wait, let me hear that. I really like that!” I didn’t think he’d like it because it was a ballad. He said, “I’ve got this idea for a title. How ’bout ‘Only Women Bleed.’”

So we sat down, and in about 25 minutes, we wrote the song at Cooper’s house in the Hollywood Hills. It gave me a great opportunity, as a writer, to explore different melodic structures and rhythms. It was great to do something different from straight ahead Chuck Berry rock.

The next big Cooper album was Alice Cooper Goes To Hell. Any interesting stories behind that one?

We spent about a month in Hawaii writing most of the songs on that album. We rented this house right on the ocean. Alice and I would go out every morning and play 18 holes of golf on the most beautiful, lush golf courses you’ve ever seen. Then, we’d come back and have a nice dinner cooked for us. We had steamed clams and sweet corn. We had the instruments out on the porch and we’d wait until nighttime, with the moon over the ocean, to write songs. You wouldn’t think that was conducive to rock and roll, but we managed to write some great rock and roll songs. That album’s popular ballad “I Never Cry” was written there. When we came back, the songs were either totally complete or Bob Ezrin wanted to add or change stuff. Sometimes, the three of us would sit in the same room and write together.

You, Cooper, and Ezrin wrote “I’m The Coolest,” which is such an atypical song from that album, it fits!

Maybe so! The three of us wrote “I’m The Coolest” on the piano at Bob’s apartment in New York on a Sunday morning. Bob was in his bathrobe! Originally, it was a song we wanted Henry Winkler to do. Winkler rejected it, he didn’t want anything that would typecast him and perpetuate the Fonz image. He said he was really a Shakespearean actor! Hell, he’s still The Fonz, Alice Cooper is still The Coolest, and Shakespeare’s still Shakespeare!

The next Cooper album, Lace And Whisky, seemed a departure for you as a songwriter.

It wasn’t one of those records we wrote on a beach somewhere. That was during our more drug-oriented days, and frankly, it shows in the writing. It’s a strange album because it doesn’t have any continuity. The song “Road Rats” is hot. My guitar in those days had a 71/2 and 15 ips delay, combined. So you’d get a short and long delay. For guitar, it makes it sing!

So, drugs were a big factor for some members of Cooper’s band at this point?

We all got off on a bad tangent towards the end. We toured all over the world and there was constant temptation. It was hard work and many hours involved. So, you get tired and you get caught up in stuff. It was drinks, then drinks and drugs. Then, it became primarily drugs. Now, it’s nothing. I was the last guy to do drugs! I was 32 before I ever got high. Once I did, though, I really enjoyed it.

Now, we’re all healthy and alive and still playing music. I’ve been straight since 1984. The drugs will create a situation of concentration or frustration at times. If you’re working 18 hours a day, cocaine helps keep you going. To say that the drugs created the songs is not true. The talent is inherent.

Let’s talk about what’s currently happening in your life. I understand there’s quite a buzz about your “Remember The Child” song.

It’s being used by therapists in their sessions all over the country. I wrote the song in 1984 and it’s about child abuse. I started a foundation to raise money for scholarships, education and counseling for families and abused children.

A Dick Wagner pro recording studio is in the works, as well.

Yes, it’s going to be a 48-track digital recording studio, plus it’ll be a video studio so we can make music videos. I’m trying to energize the Michigan music scene and find some talent out of this region. I’m trying to get a production company and an independent label going.

Do you ever plan on writing with Alice again?

Alice and I are going to be doing some writing together for his next album. It’s going to be a lot of fun. He called me one day about doing some writing again and I said, “Sure, let’s do it!” We’re possibly going to write a Broadway musical.

Steve Hunter

Vintage Guitar: Your first notable gig was with Mitch Ryder, but sharing guitar duties with Dick Wagner in Lou Reed’s band really made you famous. The intro you wrote for Reed’s “Sweet Jane” is still being talked about today. How did it come about?

Steve Hunter: I had written that in Detroit while I was in Mitch Ryder’s band. I developed it over a couple of years, messin’ around with it in front of the fireplace. I tried using it when I was playing with the Chambers Brothers, but it didn’t really work. Then, during the last couple of days of rehearsal for the Lou Reed tour, Lou’s management came in and said, “We need something to open the show with, so Lou just doesn’t appear on the stage. Can you guys jam on something?”

That’s when I said to Dick, “I’ve got this little thing I wrote. We can try it and if it doesn’t work we’ll just jam on ‘Sweet Jane’ or something.” I showed everybody the song, and as soon as the band started playing it, it was awesome! It was the first time I’d ever heard it played right. In Europe, we used it to open with “Vicious,” but it wasn’t a good show opener. Lou decided to change the opener to “Sweet Jane” by the time the album Rock and Roll Animal was recorded. It just so happens that “Vicious” is in E minor and “Sweet Jane” is in E major, so it worked because the last chord is the five of the E.

How did the Lou Reed band come together?

It was sort of between Dick Wagner and Bob Ezrin. Bob knew the Canadian musicians like Whitey Glenn, from Toronto. Prakash John is also from Toronto. Dick knew the keyboardist, Ray Colcord, from New York.

Dick Wagner mentioned that your styles often crossed over in those days. This is especially evident if you listen closely to the distribution of the guitar parts in the stereo spectrum on “Sweet Jane.” Can you tell me who’s who?

In the beginning of the intro to “Sweet Jane,” I’m doing all the soloing. So, wherever I am in the stereo field, that perspective is kept on the whole album. For Lou Reed Live, which was taken from the same night as ....Animal, Dick’s on the left and I’m on the right.

How were the lead guitar duties divided between you and Wagner?

We wanted to keep the solos equal so, we’d sit down one night and go through the material so it was totally even. We didn’t want it to look like there was a rhythm guitar player and a lead guitar player, because that’s what we both did. We worked out who played the melody and who played the harmony. For example, Dick played the harmony and I played the melody on “Sweet Jane.”

Wagner reckons that Lou Reed didn’t like the fact the band was so hot.

I think Lou Reed still hates the fact that Rock And Roll Animal is one of his most revered albums. I think Lou felt overpowered by us and it wasn’t the way he wanted to project his lyrics. He wanted the focus on the lyrics. I’m kind of bummed out I don’t have my gold record for that album. That one means a lot to me.

What gear did you use on Rock and Roll Animal?

I was using a early-’70s, 100-watt Hiwatt Hundred amps. They had a certain kind of edge to them that was different from a Marshall. I had an Echoplex and the MXR Phase 100. My guitar was a ’59 Les Paul TV Special with just a P-90 pickup in the back. I also used a ’60 Strat at the end of Rock And Roll.

What were you doing in the interim between the Lou Reed and Alice Cooper gigs?

I went back home to Illinois. Then, Bob Ezrin called me and said Alice’s Welcome To My Nightmare thing was happening.

What did you contribute, guitar-wise, to Welcome To My Nightmare?

Let me think. Let’s see, I played slide guitar on “Cold Ethyl,” and I played 12-string guitar on “Only Women Bleed.” I played the guitars solos on “Steven” and also, I played a guitar synth on “The Awakening.”

Do you remember some of the equipment you used on Cooper efforts like Goes To Hell and Lace and Whiskey?

The basic tracks for those two albums were essentially recorded at the same time. I was using a B.C. Rich Eagle and a Marshall head. We were using 16-track tape machine with two-inch tape. We had Pultec EQs and tube compressors and limiters. The console were transistors which operate like a vacuum tube, so you can warm ’em up like tubes.

What guitars did you use in Cooper’s band?

I used B.C. Rich guitars a lot. I still think Rich’s are the best American guitars made in that era. They built Dick and I Seagulls for the Nightmare tour. For Alice’s Goes To Hell tour, I had a B.C. Rich Eagle. The Alice tour I did with (longtime Elton John guitarist) Davey Johnstone, I used the B.C. Rich doubleneck guitar.

Any world tours with Reed or Cooper that really stand out?

The tours I did with Dick are all my favorites. The Lou Reed Rock and Roll Animal tour was one of my favorites because it was the first time I’d ever toured Europe. We had so much fun. We didn’t get paid hardly anything, but playing in front of sold out audiences was wonderful.

Like Wagner, you ghosted on Cooper albums before you were a member of the band, correct?

Yeah, I ghosted on Alice Cooper’s Billion Dollar Babies. I didn’t really know Alice all that well. I remember being in the studio and Bob asked me to play on “I Love The Dead.” He said, “I want you to play blues over this song called “I Love The Dead.’” It was really hard to get into it during the first pass, because I’m listening to the lyrics “I love the dead before they’re cold...” and I’m wondering how I’m supposed to play blues over that without cracking up too much!

After that, it got to be a lot of fun. I think I played on five songs, including “Generation Landslide.” Like a lot of session work, it was one of those 1 a.m. things where the tape was just rolling, so I hardly remember some of the things I did on that album.

That must have been a great time for you. You were around all of this fame and money.

Yeah, I was blown away! Here I am in New York, staying in this beautiful hotel. I get in the studio and there’s Alice wearing a pink mink coat! I thought, “This is cool!” It was a great time. It was what I’d always thought the record business was all about.

Do you make a lot of bread as a session player?

I never made a $100,000 in a year’s time, but I lived off the dough I made touring with Alice for a year sometimes.

The best money I ever made was working on the Bette Midler film The Rose. They pay huge dough! At the time, we were recording live, as well as acting, and some of the guys were singing. So, that’s three unions and the minimum on those three is big dough.

Your longtime association with Ezrin led to session work with David Lee Roth, correct?

Yeah. I hadn’t worked with Ezrin for 10 years and all of the sudden he calls me and he says, “I’m producing Dave’s album and I got this guitar player who is awesome, but we’d like to have you help him get a handle on some blues things. The guitarist, Jason Becker (who was later diagnosed with Lou Gehrig’s Disease) was a little like, “I don’t really need this.”

But I showed him some of the licks I knew and some of the Albert King records, and we hit it off. Bob called me a week later and said “Why don’t you get together with Brett Tuggle and see if you guys can write something, because we still need some material.”

We wrote “Baby’s On Fire,” and he loved it. David called me up and said, “Would you like to come to Vancouver and be on the record?” I co-wrote four of the songs on the record A Little Ain’t Enough, and did some rhythm guitar and slide stuff. I played slide guitars on “Hammerhead Shark.” That happened at a time that I was really hurting for dough. I hadn’t worked in almost a year.

It’s hard to believe a guitarist of your stature would have hard times.

Well, the ’80s was a big blow to guys who play like me. Blues-based rock and roll guitar players were simply not in demand. I didn’t foresee that. Then, there’s all these rumors I kept hearing through the grapevine. I heard that I was independently wealthy and made so much money with Alice Cooper and all these people that I’d retired and was livin’ in the mountains. Other rumors were that I got into television and film scoring and I’m making a hundred grand a picture. Another one was that I’m a heroin addict. I haven’t done any drugs in 20 years!

The real Steve Hunter story is I feel like I’m still paying dues! Sometimes it’s tough to make the rent. I went into Tower Records with $20 in my pocket, I had to buy a CD to work on a couple of songs. The guy at the counter says, “Are you Steve Hunter?” I said, “Yeah.” He starts gushing on me – apparently he was a big fan. That was uplifting, spiritually and emotionally, but at the same time I’d just plopped down my last 20 bucks. It’s important musicians understand that you can have some really rough times.

- Vintage Guitar

""Dick Wagner has had an amazing career as the guitar player for Lou Reed and Alice Cooper. In addition he has recorded classic songs with Kiss and Aerosmith and written songs for artists as diverse as Meat Loaf and Air Supply. Wagner’s discography is a Wh"

There are even unreleased masterpieces with rock icons Rod Stewart and Steve Perry. While drugs may have kept him under the radar in the 1980’s, Dick survived the rock star lifestyle and is alive and well today playing, writing, producing and recording music.He is promoting a new artist named Wensday and he has writing again with Alice Cooper.

Wagner is high on his new project with a singer he feels is destined for stardom.“Wensday is a young singer from Providence, RI.She spent many years as a jazz singer on the east coast, and when I first heard her I envisioned her taking her talent to a new level as a contemporary artist.So we sat down and began to write songs in a new genre I called Torch Rock...a blending of Torch/Jazz with Rock and Roll, the result of which can be heard on her Torch Rock CD.Wensday is a multi talented singer/songwriter with a life story that is amazing and a personality that is like the girl next door, only the OTHER girl next door.She is quirky, funny and irreverent while being sweet and charming and completely accessible as a person.”Not only is Wagner proud of her natural talent and personality, he claims that this is the best work he has ever done in his life.“This production and songwriting represent a slight departure from my earlier stuff.This music has more legit type songs and more sophisticated production.It is a step up and forward.”

Wensday even takes a crack at the Wagner/Cooper classic “Only Women Bleed.”When asked if his ego was stroked when she asked to record his most famous work Wagner replied, “Actually, Wensday heard the Etta James version of “Only Women” and stated that she’d love to record the song.So we wrote a new last verse to stress the woman’s point of view and did it in a country/blues style.It’s the best version of the song in my opinion.”

As exciting as it is to hear Wagner pump up his new musical interest, Alice Cooper fans are thrilled to hear that Dick has moved closer to the Coop and even begun writing songs with him.“I moved to Scottsdale from Michigan two years ago to form a new production company with Susan Michelson and Alex Cyrell and to be closer to Alice Cooper and Alan Gordon.I love it here in the valley of the sun and Alice and I have written a couple songs together and hopefully they will be part of his next CD. Alice and I have a natural affinity for each other and so we can almost pick up where we left off.What we’re working on is to be discovered at a later date.It’s real good that’s all I can say.”

Wagner has been writing off and on with Cooper for over 30 years.His most well known album he wrote with Cooper was 1975’s Welcome to My Nightmare.Wagner on getting the gig: “I was getting ready to record a solo album when Shep [Gordon, Cooper’s Manager] and Alice asked me to become Alice’s co-writer and help organize a new band for him.I became Alice’s band leader and writing partner.I struggled for a moment on giving up my plans to go solo, but I think I might have made the right choice.”When asked about writing “Only Woman Bleed” Wagner experienced a blond moment!“Picture this: In the middle of a 50 mile an hour winds, outside near the beach, I start the opening riff on an acoustic guitar.Alice chimed in “Welcome to my nightmare” and a song and concept was born.Oh wait, that was how “Nightmare” was born.“Only Women” came from a song I had written in 1968.Alice liked the music so we wrote all new lyrics and in twenty minutes the song was complete.In the studio, we used Alice’s rough vocal, first take, as the final vocal. We wrote Welcome to My Nightmare on an island in the Bahamas and we wrote Goes to Hell in Hawaii.It’s a tough job but somebody’s gotta do it!”

Wagner had worked as a session musician and even co-wrote music with Cooper before taking the plunge and becoming his band director and full time writing partner. The duo first performed together during the classic Schools Out album in 1972. “Don’t ask me which songs I played on.I can barely remember being there. Suffice it to say that I did play on that album and earned a total of $90 for my work.”Next years Billion Dollar Babies saw him invited back.When asked to describe the scene Wagner rolls his eyes can comments, “Same story, only more money.Plus I co-wrote “I Love the Dead,” even though you’d never know it by looking at the credits ????-- another long story.”

Wagner’s Cooper years were summed up on the live album titled The Alice Cooper Show.Rumor had it that Wagner was dissatisfied with the album. Dick sets the record straight, “I do not hate that album.Who told you that?The recording at The Aladdin Hotel in Las Vegas was a bit of a fiasco but I like the record.”The same can’t be said for the follow up Lace & Whiskey. While the album included the huge hit ballad “You & Me” the album, as a whole, failed to live up to the Wagner/Cooper legacy.“We fooled ourselves into thinking we could do no wrong and pretty much settled for quickly writing inferior songs. My bad. Alice’s bad. Ezrin’s bad.”

Aside from the musical let down both Wagner and Cooper had fallen into a cesspool of substance abuse.“I was afraid for all of us really.The whole altered state of consciousness thing was way out of control.”Cooper went to rehab where the album From the Inside was inspired.“It was not an insane asylum.It was a re-hab center. Don’t let the images on From the Inside fool you.”When Alice was released he contacted Wagner and the album was born.Lyrics were co-written by Cooper and Elton John lyricist Bernie Taupin while guest musicians included Toto’s Steve Lukather.“Basically, Alice and Bernie Taupin came to me with reams of lyrics and I wrote music to them. David Foster came in and added his genius and there you go. I loved playing with Lukather and writing with Taupin.These guys are among the best, so it was a real treat for me.”Ironically, the album was the last for Wagner.Once again rumor suggested that Wagner had been fired as Cooper wanted to go in a different creative direction.Wagner says it isn’t so.“I left to record my Atlantic album and to produce Mark Farner, plus we couldn’t come to a financial agreement that made sense for me.The only time I’ve been ousted was after the Lou Reed R+R Animal sessions. Lou went to the abysmal Coney Island Baby.”

Wagner was the guitar player for Lou Reed on the classic Rock n’ Roll Animal back in 1974. The album featured many of Reed’s classic in elongated and jam oriented form “Rock & Roll Animal was one of my favorite albums to have been a part of. It was a great band and a great tour. Lou was a quirky, unpredictable genius with a strong cult following in Europe especially. We rehearsed two weeks and then took off for a European tour. The lengthy versions of the songs were just a manifestation of the nature of the extraordinary skills of the band and Lou’s willingness to feature us every night. The venue was the Brooklyn Academy of Music and the crowd was ecstatic. I don’t think they’d heard anything quite like it before.”

Wagner has been in the music business for forty years and is still creating music and paying attention to his craft. While he has a signature sound, his musical vision remains elusive.“My vision is hard to define, but I’ve always believed in doing quality and meaningful work. You can hear the evolution in what I do over the years, and especially now with Wensday’s record. Music will always be an important part of Human Culture, even though it is predominately garbage at certain points of time. Music communicates on a level that is both profound and sublime and affords the listener a means of self introspection when it is expressed in its finer forms. Real music is about to experience a real revival I do believe. It’s about time.”
- Classic Rock Revisited

""Kiss' 'Great Expectations' could have been anti-climactic if he didn't lay down the elegant solo. But more than hot solos, Wagner brought intricate arrangements and even a hit song or two (Alice Cooper's 'Only Women Bleed' and 'Me and You,"

And Kiss' 'Great Expectations' could have been anti-climactic if he didn't lay down the elegant solo. But more than hot solos, Wagner brought intricate arrangements and even a hit song or two (Alice Cooper's 'Only Women Bleed' and 'Me and You," etc. to the table." - Music Connection 2007

"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.""

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."
~ Book: A Study of Lou Reed’s Berlin and Rock & Roll Animal Albums by Joe Viglione, 2009 - Joe Viglione, A Study of Lou Reed's Berlin and Rock & Roll Animal Albums

"“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. A- “"

“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. A- “
~ Robert Christgau, Christgau's Record Guide, 1981. - Robert Christgau, Christgau's Record Guide

""This is a record to be played loud. Like a Formula One car, it doesn't really begin to perform until it's pushed close to the limit…Powered up on a strong system loud enough to make enemies a quarter-mile away, Rock n Roll Animal -- recorded live ... is,"

"This is a record to be played loud. Like a Formula One car, it doesn't really begin to perform until it's pushed close to the limit…Powered up on a strong system loud enough to make enemies a quarter-mile away, Rock n Roll Animal -- recorded live at Lou Reed's Academy of Music concert December 21st, 1973 -- is, well, very fine."
~ Rolling Stone, Timothy Ferris - Rolling Stone

""Welcome To My Nightmare... blazed new trails... yielding a monster hit in the (Cooper-Wagner) ballad Only Woman Bleed.... To replace the muscular sound of his long-standing band, Cooper recruited Lou Reed's rock & roll animals, guitarists Dick Wagner and"

"Welcome To My Nightmare... blazed new trails... yielding a monster hit in the (Cooper-Wagner) ballad Only Woman Bleed.... To replace the muscular sound of his long-standing band, Cooper recruited Lou Reed's rock & roll animals, guitarists Dick Wagner and Steve Hunter, who stacked up fiery riffs like so much sawmill fodder throughout the songs on Welcome To My Nightmare."
~ Alt.Culture.Guide - www.thatdevilmusic.com/ACG/ Rev. Keith A. Gordon (Rev. Keith A. Gordon) - Alt.Culture.Guide

"Dick Wagner: Aerosmith’s 'Train Kept A Rollin’ might never have left the station if his 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 "

Dick Wagner: Aerosmith’s 'Train Kept A Rollin’ might never have left the station if his 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 - Music Connection Magazine


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
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
Alice Cooper, School's Out - Guitar
Ursa Major, Let The Music Play - Guitar, Vocals, Composer
1973 Alice Cooper, Billion Dollar Babies - Guitar , Composer
Alice Cooper, Muscle of Love - Guitar
Elliott Murphy Aquashow - Vocals, Vocal backgrounds
Flo & Eddie, Flo & Eddie - Guitar, Composer
Lou Reed, Berlin – Guitar, Vocals
1974 Aerosmith, Get Your Wings - Guitar
Alice Cooper, Alice Greatest Hits - Guitar
Justin Paige, Justin Paige - Guitar
Lou Reed, Rock & Roll Animal - Guitar, Background Vocals , Musical Director
1975 Lou Reed, Lou Reed Live - Guitar, Background Vocals, Musical Director
Alice Cooper, Welcome to My Nightmare – Guitar, Vocals, Composer , Muiscal Director
Alice Cooper, Alice Cooper Goes to Hell - Guitar, Arranger, Vocals, Conception, Composer
1976 KISS Destroyer - Guitar
Ray Manzarek, The Whole Thing Started from Rock and Roll – Guitar
1977 Alice Cooper, The Alice Cooper Show - Guitar, Composer, BkgVocals
Alice Cooper, Lace & Whiskey – Guitar, vocals
Peter Gabriel, Peter Peter Gabriel [car on cover] - Guitar, BkgVocals
Peter Gabriel, Solsbury Hill - Guitar
Richard Wagner, Richard Richard Wagner - Guitar, Composer, Vocals,
1978 Tim Curry, Read My Lips - Guitar, Composer, Producer
Etta James, Deep In The Night - Composer
Burton Cummings, Dream of a Child - Guitar
The FROST, Early Frost - Guitar, Vocals, Producer, Arranger, Composer
Mark Farner, Mark Farner - Guitar, Producer, Composer
Alice Cooper, From the Inside - Guitar, Composer, vocals
Hall & Oates, Along the Red Ledge - Guitar
197? Alice Cooper, Alice - 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 Patti, Patti Austin - Composer
Jah Mahla, Jah Mahla - Guitar
1985 The Muppets,- Welcome To My Nightmare - Composer
1985 Air Supply, Air Supply - Composer
1985 Air Supply, Just As I Am - composer
1986 Lee Aaron, Call of the Wild - Composer
Etta James, The Late Show - Composer
Meatloaf, Blind Before I Stop - Composer
1988 Paolo Fresu, Only Women Bleed - Composer
198? Rod Stewart, Rod Stewart - Composer
198? Fiona, Fiona - Composer
1989 Tim Curry, The Best of Tim Curry - Guitar, Composer
1990 Throbs, The, The Language of Vagabonds – Producer, Guitar
1990 Lita Ford, Stilletto - Composer
1990 Ringo Starr, Live At Montreux - Composer
1991 Alice Cooper, Hey Stoopid - Guitar, Composer
1991 John Bradshaw, Homecoming PBS Television Theme Song - Composer
1991 Richard Wagner, Remember the Child - Composer, Guitar, Vocals, Producer
1992 Lita Ford, The Best Of Lita Ford - Composer, Producer
1992 Richard Wagner, Creating Love - Composer, Producer, Guitars
1992 Kiss, Revenge - Guitar
1992 Lou Reed, Between Thought and Expression: The Lou Reed Anthology - Guitar
Peter Gabriel, Peter Gabriel Revisited - Guitar, Vocals
‘70's Greatest Rock Hits:Vol.2 - Vocals, Composer
Heavy Hitters 70's Greatest Rock Hits:Vol.2 - Vocals, Composer
Heavy Hitters Guitar, Vocals, Composer
1993 John Bradshaw, Creating Love PBS Television
Monsters of Rock Monsters of Rock: Vol. 1- Guitar, Composer
Bill Kennedy's Showtime, Rock N Roll Music - Composer
John Farnham, Then Again – Composer, Guitar
Perry, Steve (unreleased) Guitar, Composer, Producer
Carmen McCrae, Only Women Bleed - Composer
Elvira, 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
Cleveland Intern




Nearly forty years after launching his storied and dynamic career, hit songwriter, guitar virtuoso and masterful producer and arranger Dick Wagner remains a brilliant and vital force on the pop/rock landscape he helped create.

Dick Wagner’s songs and lead guitar have been featured on more than 150 renowned albums, including 14 Platinum records, 16 Gold Records, 5 Silver Records; and Wagner has been awarded numerous BMI Songwriter Awards.

Legendary for his groundbreaking collaborations with Alice Cooper—for whom he was musical director, lead guitarist and co-writer of the icon’s biggest hits, including “Only Women Bleed,” “You And Me” and “Welcome To My Nightmare”--the Detroit area native helped define an era in rock history by performing or writing for Aerosmith, Lou Reed, Burton Cummings, Kiss, Meat Loaf, Steve Perry, Ringo Starr, Etta James, Peter Gabriel, Rod Stewart, Air Supply, Little Richard, Roy Orbison, and many more. 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.

Writer on Demand

Currently in the studio writing songs again with Cooper for an upcoming CD, Wagner has become an in-demand, one stop “go to” guy offering his wide range of musical expertise to a multitude of clients in all genres. While famous as one of the most innovative guitarists of the rock era, he is also a highly prolific songwriter, with hundreds of tracks and numerous Top Ten hits to his credit. A master at writing engaging lyrics, catchy melodies and driving, rhythmic riffs, Wagner transforms simple concepts into fully realized songs, often overnight, as a “writer on demand.”

Multi-genre Producer, Arranger

Wagner is an impressively diverse presence “behind the boards,” offering his services as a top-flight producer and arranger. With refined, seasoned taste and powerful chops to spare, Wagner has a million ideas for your next project. With nearly 40 years of experience in the studio and on the road with rock music’s biggest artists, he brings extraordinary sonic expertise and edgy, soulful and sophisticated musicianship to every musical genre—rock, country, blues, jazz, alternative…. He has also expanded his scope in recent years to writing songs for TV shows and composing film scores.

Even after Cooper’s heyday, Wagner kept up the social conscience that the two tapped into with the domestic abuse themed “Only Women Bleed,” writing the song “Remember the Child” about the ills of child abuse. Originally commissioned by The San Antonio Commission on child Abuse, author/lecturer John Bradshaw discovered the song and chose it as his theme for the Emmy nominated PBS special “Homecoming.” It 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 dealing with their patients.

Wagner is currently a principal in Desert Dreams Records. A full-service independent label based in Phoenix, Arizona, Desert Dreams takes a revolutionary -- and yet old school – hands-on approach to developing the extraordinary artist into the cutting-edge stars of tomorrow.

Desert Dreams Records: Music Production and Artist Development for the extraordinary Artist.