Alice stage tricks upset Dick Wagner
Veteran guitarist and songwriter Dick Wagner has admitted he didn’t enjoy some of the stage tricks he was forced to go along with during his 1970s stint with Alice Cooper.
But that didn’t stop him recruiting his former boss to help with his upcoming album.
Wagner, who appeared alongside guitarist Steve Hunter during Cooper’s Welcome To My Nightmare era, has also worked with Lou Reed, Kiss, Aerosmith, Meat Loaf, Peter Gabriel, Jerry Lee Lewis, Little Richard and many others.
He tells antiMusic: “Some of the stuff we did with Alice was stupid and silly, and I didn’t enjoy being part of it. Like the chickens or machine guns or something like that – it was just so juvenile. He’s a better talent: more sophisticated than that. I did not agree with all of it; but some of it I thought was spectacular. I really enjoyed myself.”
He feels he didn’t get all the recognition he deserved when he assumed the role of bandleader for Cooper, as he’d previously done for Reed. “I always sort of stepped into that wherever I was playing,” he says. “The same with Alice Cooper. That was difficult with you not getting credit along the way, as much as you maybe should. It’s always difficult. But for me playing is enough; I don’t have to have the limelight like them.”
Wagner admits he and Reed were never close, and believes he was dismissed following 1974 live album Rock’n'Roll Animal because the Velvet Underground icon felt “intimidated” by his band. “Lou and I were not close,” says the guitarist. “We haven’t spoken since. I went to see him once in New York: I went backstage and he left me waiting in the hall and never invited me in. I was sincerely offended by it.”
Meanwhile, though, he’s been collaborating with Cooper again on a series of songs which are set to appear on a concept album about a “rock star serial killer.” Wagner explains: “I got Alice to help me with lyrics on three of them. It’s going to be great.”
He’s recorded a stack of his memoirs in a book, Not Only Women Bleed, named for one of his best-known songs. Those recollections include his experience of selling the track I Love The Dead. “I wrote the music for that song. I was not credited because I sold it to Alice Cooper. I was asked not to be credited because the credit on there would be only Alice Cooper. And as it turned out a lot of the songs are Alice and Bob Ezrin.
“I sold it for $6000 – I needed money at the time, and that’s the story. That’s what it is. All the royalties from I Love the Dead and all the acclaim for the song, I have no part in, but I did write it.
“It’s the music business. You can’t trust anyone to deal with you fairly. You just can’t because they’re not going to do it.”