I'm saddened today by the death of Dick Wagner - best known as the guitarist who co-wrote 'Only Women Bleed' with shock rock king Alice Cooper. Wagner was one of the greatest unknown guitarists of his era. He was 71.
He played the duel leads on Aerosmith's 'Train Kept A Rollin'' along side Steve Hunter - the pair were called "the best guitar team in the world," by no less than Steven Tyler. Hunter and Wagner were also the team responsible for the brilliant guitar work on Lou Reed's bookend live albums, 'Lou Reed Live', and 'Rock N' Roll Animal', that resulted in the mega hit 'Sweet Jane' that featured one of the greatest guitar intros in recorded history.
Dick also wrote hits for Air Supply, and contributed to many Cooper classics. Oh yeah, the lead on Aerosmith's 'Same Old Song And Dance'? That was Dick.
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He truly lived and breathed the rock n' roll lifestyle and he documented it as well as anyone ever has in his outstanding autobiography, Not Only Women Bleed: Vignettes From The Heart Of A Rock Musician.
In 2007, Wagner suffered a massive heart attack and stroke. After arriving DOA at a Scottsdale, Arizona hospital, he spent two weeks in a coma, and awakened with a paralyzed left arm.
As he slowly recovered, Wagner manifested unusual symptoms, including difficulty walking and concentrating, loss of balance, and symptoms of dementia, threatening his music career and his life.
In 2011, Dick was diagnosed with Normal Pressure Hydrocephalus (NPH), a type of dementia. In late 2011, after successful surgery 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.
In his later years, Dick was very active doing appearances at many music and book stores, and he organized, recorded, and released his song and video for 'If I Had Time (I Could Change The World)', to raise money for St Jude's Children's Research Hospital. Also featured on the recording were more than 50 musicians including Mark Farner, Leland Sklar, Elliot Easton, Jennifer Batten, and Trini Lopez.
On a personal note, I last saw Dick at Showcase Guitars in San Jose, California a few months back. He was the first guitar teacher for my one month son. After their lesson, Dick said, "He needs to work on his dexterity, but he's got a great set of hands!"
Dick saw, and did it all - he lived life as it should be lead, and he had become a gentleman. One of the nicest guys you would ever meet, and a tremendous talent. Rest in peace, my friend....