Dick Wagner, best known as the lead guitarist for Alice Cooper, passed away yesterday in Scottsdale, Arizona at the age of 71. Known for having worked with Lou Reed, Aerosmith and KISS, Wagner had publicly succumbed to several medical issues over the past decade, including a heart attack in 2007, as well as a stroke that left his left arm paralyzed and put him in a coma for weeks. However, Wagner went back to recording, writing and playing shows, including a Detroit homecoming show at the Magic Bag back in 2011. It was then revealed earlier this month that Wagner developed a lung infection while in the hospital following surgery. Having been in intensive care for two weeks at Scottsdale Healthcare Shea Medical Center, Wagner died of respiratory failure yesterday.
Alice Cooper paid his respects soon after the news, telling Billboard, “Even though we know it’s inevitable, we never expect to suddenly lose close friends and collaborators. Dick Wagner and I shared as many laughs as we did hit records. He was one of a kind. He is irreplaceable. His brand of playing and writing is not seen anymore, and there are very few people that I enjoyed working with as much as I enjoyed working with Dick Wagner.”
Wagner is survived by two sons and one daughter. According to Wagner’s personal manager and business partner Susan Michelson, a memorial will be held in Michigan. Wagner leaves behind a plethora of musical wisdom, memories and his 2012 memoir, Not Only Women Bleed: Vignettes from the Heart of a Rock Musician.
– Samantha M. Lopez