Dick Wagner, guitarist, songwriter for Alice Cooper; at 71

Dick Wagner performed at Callahan’s Music Hall in Auburn Hill, Mich., in 2013.

John Gillies/Iron Street Studios

Dick Wagner performed at Callahan’s Music Hall in Auburn Hill, Mich., in 2013.

NEW YORK — Dick Wagner, a skilled guitarist who worked with Alice Cooper, Lou Reed, Kiss, and Aerosmith and also co-wrote many of Cooper’s hits, died of respiratory failure Wednesday, his personal manager and business partner said Friday. He was 71.

Susan Michelson, Mr. Wagner’s partner in Desert Dreams Productions, said the performer died at Scottsdale Healthcare Shea Medical Center.


Mr. Wagner grew up in Michigan, and his website said he went on tour with Reed in 1973 and joined Cooper a year later. He co-wrote the Cooper hits ‘‘Only Women Bleed,’’ “You and Me,’’ and ‘‘I Never Cry.’’ He also worked as Cooper’s musical director.

Mr. Wagner’s website said the guitarist had many health issues, surviving two heart attacks, a stroke, kidney failure, and diabetes.

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Mr. Wagner formed the band The Bossmen in Michigan, but had his first real taste of success with the band The Frost.

He then moved to New York and formed Ursa Major, a short-lived band that included Mr. Wagner on guitar and Billy Joel on keyboard. Mr. Wagner’s website said drama in ‘‘Billy’s personal life intervened and he left the band.’’

Mr. Wagner relocated to Phoenix and started Desert Dreams in 2005 with Michelson, whom he met when working with Cooper.

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