Dick Wagner died July 30. He was 71. A guitarist who worked with several of rock’s biggest names and played on albums by KISS, Hal & Oates and Peter Gabriel, Wagner is best known for his work with Steve Hunter forming the twin-guitar attack so crucial to Alice Cooper and, briefly as the spearhead of Lou Reed’s live sound in the mid-70s. It was in that role that I was first introduced to his work, hearing Berlin and most importantly the live version of Sweet Jane (from Reed’s Rock’n’Roll Animal).
He was a big part of the Alice Cooper sound too – the link between Cooper and Reed being producer Bob Ezrin. Wagner co-wrote some of Alice Cooper’s best known material, including Only Women Bleed and would return to work with Cooper in the 1990s and most recently on his sequel to the Welcome To My Nightmare album.
But it’s his playing on the original Welcome To My Nightmare and Billion Dollar Babies, Reed’s Berlin, Rock’n’Roll Animal and Lou Reed Live albums that he’s best remembered for. Certainly in my world anyway. That intro to Sweet Jane – fucking glorious. Teenage dreams and schemes…a life wasted listening to that. Not a waste at all!
Wagner had suffered a range of health issues over the last half decade, heart attacks, stroke and respiratory issues. He published his memoir, Not Only Women Bleed, returned to playing after forced time off due to the downward spiral of his health. And then, due to complications from a recent heart surgery he died due to respiratory failure.