Dick Wagner, a guitarist who was a key figure in the early pre-punk and American glam movements, utilizing his talents for such luminaries in the music world as Alice Cooper, Lou Reed and KISS, has died at the age of 71 of respiratory failure. Wagner had been battling ill health for many years prior to his death.
Born in Saginaw, Michigan, Wagner rubbed elbows later on after the first wave of hard rock music that came from that state’s seminal city Detroit, when Wagner was recruited to play on Alice Cooper’s seminal solo release, Welcome to My Nightmare, a record in which Wagner was heavily involved (with producer Ezrin) with Cooper, eventually sharing songwriting credits. (A highlight is the ambiguous and haunting “Only Women Bleed.”) The 1975 release became a benchmark in Cooper’s career and also showed the embryonic strains of a solo career that would stretch currently into its fourth decade. The muscle and confidence of Wagner’s playing (he had huge shoes to follow after Cooper had been in a band with Glen Buxton earlier, whose playing was signature up and down all over the band) put him as one of the mid-70s post Detroit-rock/pre-first wave of punk music’s heavyweights. In fact, for the next few decades following his successful debut foray with Cooper on record, Wagner became involved heavily with the shock rock singer thereafter, appearing on various subsequent albums and tours.
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