Tuesday, 11 December 2012

Dick Wagner: Not Only Women Bleed. Book Review

Dick Wagner: Not Only Women Bleed:
Vignettes From The Heart Of A Rock Musician
Desert Dreams Books
Dick Wagner as many who know will tell you is one of the great guitarists in rock. He is famous for playing with Lou reed and even more famously for playing for Alice Cooper alongside Steve Hunter who also played with Dick in the Lou Reed band that recorded the legendary Rock n Roll Animal live album. The guitar solo on the introduction to the track Sweet Jane by Dick and Steve Hunter was voted #25 in the top 50 guitar solos of all time.
Dick recounts early encounters with rock n roll legends including Little Richard, Roy Orbison, BB King and Les Paul. His life as a musician is highlighted by success and also hit records and sells out concert dates. The darker side of the music business is also laid bare with Dick’s account of the drugs and addictions which almost led to his death. Thankfully while bruised and battered Dick Wagner is not finished and continues to fight back even after two heart attacks and a recent operation to remove a blood clot on the brain. Not Only Women Bleed is an inspirational account of one of Rock Music’s most famous sidemen and is a story worth telling and certainly a story worth reading. Dick’s musical history however stretches wider and deeper than those two artists he is most commonly associated with, Alice Cooper and Lou Reed and good as they both may be they are just part of the bigger picture.
Dick like many kids in America first got hooked into music by rock n roll and through the sixties like many other aspiring musicians was in a number of bands trying to emulate their musical heroes and become famous. By the end of the sixties Dick was leading his own bands and into the seventies was even recording and releasing albums with these bands. From the early seventies however Dick was also playing sessions and continues to do so for the likes of Kiss, Aerosmith, Meatloaf, Peter Gabriel and of course Alice Cooper and it is in 1972 that he first got to play with Alice Cooper on the School’s Out album.  He would also guest on Billion Dollar Babies and Muscle Of Love before finally becoming a member of the band Alice put together to record albums from Welcome To My Nightmare onwards. Dick was a major part of the Cooper song writing team that wrote the Welcome To My Nightmare album and the hits Only Women Bleed, How You Gonna See Me Now You And Me  and I Never Cry. In fact it is fair to say that Dick was a major part of the Cooper success story from 1975 right through to the early eighties.
Most people will of course want to read about the Cooper years and of all the other great sessions that Dick has played on over the last forty plus years but what really comes across here in this book is the man. The book is not set out in conventional chapters as such but rather shorter stories which cover the relevant period of time or particular memory thus making the book incredibly easy to read and follow. The other great thing about this book is that you can almost pick it up and let it fall open anywhere and read the relevant story where the book fell open. The stories themselves are absolute gold dust and there are many many big names within the pages that have added colour to Dick Wagner’s life and of course by his work with these artists Dick has added to their lives and music also
As I say the book really comes across well as the story of Dick Wagner the man and he is brutally honest about the times in his life where he feels he could have done better particularly where his family and relationships are concerned. As Dick worked and continues to work in the music industry there are also the stories concerning his various addictions and again Dick is brutally honest. Not in a confessional kind of way just an honest appraisal of what he did and how he got through it.
Dick Wagner is a survivor and in the music industry that is something to be celebrated believe me. He has success and has known disappointment but he is still fired up enough to continue playing concerts and recording and getting out there and playing.
Not Only Women Bleed is a tremendous book and one which I can wholeheartedly recommend to anyone remotely interested in rock music and the life and times of a musician.
The book contains a foreword by Alice Cooper and also contains two audio CDs of previously unreleased music which fans of Dick Wagner will definitely find interesting. As Dick heads up to his 70th birthday we find him still playing and enjoying playing and recording and still with the fire that he had when he first decided to become a musician all those years ago. This book will be a must have for Cooper fans but I urge you to look beyond the Cooper connection and find the man. You will not be disappointed by the humorous anecdotes and you will certainly be touched by his insightful memories of what has been an incredible rock n roll life.
More details of the book can be found at Dick Wagner’s website
And can be purchased from all good book shops and online retailers or directly from the dedicated website where you will find more information about the book

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