In October 2004 SickthingsUK board member WickedYoungMan conducted a second interview with Dick Wagner..
WYM: First of all, thank you for taking time to answer a few questions! It is an honor to be speaking with you. Would you mind telling me what got you started in the music business and why you chose to play the guitar?
Dick Wagner: How I got started is a boring story that I only tell at drunken parties with my neighbors.
WYM: Did you teach yourself to play guitar or did you take guitar lessons?
Dick Wagner: I am completely self taught
WYM: Many argue that the Frost band was your first big break, others would say your time with Lou Reed, others would say Alice Cooper's B$B/WTMN era was. What would you say was your first big break in the music business?
Dick Wagner: My bands have always been successful whether local, regional or national/worldwide, so each step was a new "big break". I look at each phase as an ongoing adventure and consider myself fortunate to have been able to experience this life as a musician.
WYM: Alice and Lou are considered "Extreme" glamists in one way or another. Did the whole Glam thing affect how you approached writing and playing with these artists?
Dick Wagner: It made me bend my perceptions of rock music to fit the individual personas being created by these guys. It also allowed me to be expansive in my writing and arranging in order to encompass the hugeness of the image.
WYM: You took over as the semi Lead Guitarist on the Billion Dollar Babies Album because of Glen's almost "useless" guitar playing as the ACG put it. In what ways do you feel your lead guitar styles between yourself and Glen are different?
Dick Wagner: In every way.
WYM: And had he actually recorded 100% of what he should have, would Billion Dollar Babies, the album, be something completely different musically?
Dick Wagner: No, but it would have been different.
WYM: Were you given creative writing and playing ability in recording the songs for B$B?
Dick Wagner: Freedom always in playing, only writing was the uncredited "I Love The Dead"
WYM: In a way, I imagine you were in close contact with the ACG afterwards. There are many different theories as to why the ACG broke up, even from the band itself. What is yours?
Dick Wagner: Alice wanted to move on.
WYM: You were officially given the title Lead Guitarist and co song writer for Alice Cooper's first solo album. Was this an easy task?
Dick Wagner: Yea it was easy because it was so much fun. Alice and I laughed our way through the entire project.
WYM: Why do you think WTMN was as big of a success as it was?
Dick Wagner: Great songs, Great playing, Great production, Great concept. Great tour
WYM: After WTMN, starting with Goes To Hell, Alice's album sales began to decline fast. Even though the albums were as good as ever with your incredible help in song writing and guitar playing, what do you think happened to his fan base?
Dick Wagner: Kiss happened, pop music changed a lot, Alice played golf with President Ford.
WYM: I have to say, two songs that I know of on Alice's albums were actually written by you several years before your collaboration with Alice. "Only Women Bleed" is one that sticks out. What was your original version called and how was it different?
Dick Wagner: It was called "I'm Movin' On" and the difference was Alice and his new lyrics.
WYM: "Wish You Were Here" was derived from a song from your Ursa Major Album, any reason why you chose to use parts of that song for "Goes To Hell?"
Dick Wagner: To see how many people would notice…it was Ezrin's idea, my riff…so far not many people have…welcome to the select few.
WYM: An Alice Cooper album in which you practially did all the Guitars and Bass for was "DaDa." That album is considered to be a cult favorite by many including myself. Why was this so different (and 100 times better) from the two previous albums, Special Forces and Zipper Catches Skin, considered to be the least favorites, and ones in which you had some part of.
Dick Wagner: I had no part in Special Forces…I did work on Zipper. Zipper was the off to the races speedy album with no hits. DaDa was a work of art and remains one of my favorite albums to this day.
WYM: Alice Cooper undoubtedly had a big part of your career as you had the most collaborations with him. Who else have you worked with?
Dick Wagner: Go to my website wagnermusic.com for a look at my complete discography
WYM: And after DaDa, did you continue to be as active as a recording artist?
Dick Wagner: I remain active today, playing, writing,recording, producing and being happy.
WYM: Other than music, are you keeping busy? Have a regular day job that you do or anything like that?
Dick Wagner: No day job except my music which is a 24/7 gig anyway.
WYM: Right now, Alice is doing poorly as far as album sales and so on, but yet his music is just as it has been forever. Do you agree that this has something to do with the fact that he is on such a small label (Spitfire)? Would you say he is capable of selling as many albums as Aerosmith and Ozzy for example if he were on a bigger record label who could afford to promote him?
Dick Wagner: I don't have an answer for that question. It shall remain a mystery.
Now the Questions, from YOU, the Fans at SickThings UK.
1. Wayne asks: Any plans to work with Alice in the future?
Dick Wagner: We have recently talked about doing some writing together…when that will happen is undecided
2. Si, who owns SickthingsUK, asks: Where there any songs written and/or recorded with Alice that were never released?
Dick Wagner: Yes indeed…many
Was it ever suggested that you should take over from Glen Buxton as a full time member of the original group before they split?
Dick Wagner: No. I was asked to help form the new band
3. Tom would like to know: How much of your work with Lou Reed (and/or Velvet Underground, don't remember) is shown through with your work with Alice Cooper. Did Reed offer any tips, advice or ideas that you shared with Cooper to inspire him? Vice Versa?
Dick Wagner: No interplay between Reed and Cooper at all…two separate genius's.
4. Kevin asks: In writing with Alice Cooper, did Alice come up with the lyrics first and told you to write music for it, or did you have the music ready and Alice and yourself came up with the lyrics afterwards?
Dick Wagner: It worked both ways most of the time and in fact I had Titles, Lyrics or a completed song at times that we then adapted to Alice together.
5. Tim asks: What are you thoughts on bootlegging? (non profit, or for profit making).... Does it bother you to a degree?
Dick Wagner: I really prefer being paid…it keeps a roof over my head…bootlegging, piracy are not cool although the occasional live performance bootleg adds to the historical content of an artist's carreer.
6. Chris from Australia writes: Hello from Australia Dick, and from the bottom of my heart thank you for inspiring this guitarist and the huge part you've played in my musical journey . And thanks for all the classics!
Dick Wagner: Thank you Chris for the kind words. It's people like you that keep me moving forward and active playing.
Can you tell me what main guitar you used during the 70s - 80s .
Dick Wagner: My '68 Les Paul, my BC Rich Eagle
What in your eyes are some of the most memorable riffs you wrote? Of the many classic songs you wrote what are some of your favorites?
Dick Wagner: A question too difficult to answer…Darkest Hour, Ursa Major album would be one, Only Women Bleed, Alice Cooper would be another
Can you share any funny or crazy storys that may have happened during some of your recording sessions?
Dick Wagner: Lots of crazy times with Ezrin..Like duct taping the recording engineer to his chair and rolling him out into the middle of LeBrea Street in Hollywood, followed by chasing each other around the studio with fire extinguishers, taking all the oxygen out of the air. Is this what you mean by crazy story?
How much of Alice Cooper show was in fact recorded in a studio, I'm guessing just the drums and bass are live and the rest was redone?
Dick Wagner: The Alice Cooper Show was recorded LIVE in Las Vegas at the Alladin Hotel. A couple guitar parts were fixed up in the studio and the album was mixed in the studio. Alice may have fixed a couple vocals as well.
From WickedYoungMan: Right now, there is a petition for you to get inducted into the Hall of Fame. You and Alice both, who have made great contributions to the music world in ways many rockers couldn't, have never even been nominated to be inducted. Do you feel that this is wrong and that either one of you should have been in a long time ago?
Dick Wagner: Alice Cooper should have been inducted without a doubt. As for me…no comment, but I thank my webmaster for his campaign to get me in and I thank any of you have signed the petition.
Okay, very last question.
RIAA certifications for Alice as a solo artist have only been given to two of his albums. "Welcome To My Nightmare" and "Trash." However, they were only certified for a million, and many would agree that Welcome To My Nightmare and others have sold more than just a million records. Do you know any rough sales figures for WTMN and any of the other albums that you had done with Alice?
Dick Wagner: Nightmare is nearly two million…Go to hell is over a million…Lace and whiskey is nearly a million…Poison is a million and a half…Da Da is 1,976 or thereabouts….Zipper catches skin is 198 and counting (LOL) and King of the silver screen is still awaiting shipment….From the inside is over a million also….I don't know about Trash or Constrictor
That is it for the questions now. Thanks to those who asked the great questions!
I would like to thank one of the most amazing guitarists and songwriters I have ever had the chance to interview, Dick Wagner.
Dick Wagner: Thank you for the kind words and the opportunity to speak to the die hard fans out there. I love you all.!!!!!
Now I would like Dick Wagner to share a few words with all Dick Wagner and Alice Cooper fans at SickthingsUK. Is there anything you would like to say in closing? Take as long (or short) as you like!
Dick Wagner: ROCK ON and promote tolerance and peace!!!
Special thanks to Dick Wagner, once again, for sharing his time with us. Good luck to you and your career and keep on rocking! Thank you for everything you have done for us Alice and Dick Wagner fans over the years for giving us the best music that will go down in Rock History! You can learn more about Dick Wagner and his great music at www.wagnermusic.com .