Author: Dick Wagner
Editor: Susan Michelson
Foreword by Alice Cooper
Publisher: Desert Dreams Books & Music; 1ST edition (September 1, 2012)
Sex, drugs, rock and roll. That's all you need to know about Dick Wagner's autobiography.
Well, that's not entirely fair, although Wagner's career and personal life essentially revolved around his decades in rock music and his twin addictions, sex and drugs. In terms of sex, his book is akin to Bill Wyman's memoirs in that he chronicles nearly every lay he ever had. Like Wyman, that's a lot of graphic confessions. Now at age 68, Wagner's addiction has turned into rhapsodic literary expression about all those conquests on the road. He shares his deep gratitude to many of the memorable ladies of his past, blows long distance kisses to others, and entertains an audience who might enjoy vicariously dipping into other people's wham bam thank you Ma'ams.
In terms of rock, that's the main reason most readers will pick up this lively tome. After all, Wagner was part of the Detroit, Michigan '60s music scene where he worked in local bands and met and played with idols like Little Richard, Roy Orbison, and BB King. After a stint with the regional band, Frost, Wagner came to national prominence as half of the guitar duo on Lou Reed's Rock and Roll Animal liv LP. That gig lead to his becoming an axeman and songwriting collaborator with Alice Cooper for four studio albums. His resume expanded to include playing with, writing for, or producing the likes of Billy Joel, Meatloaf, Tina Turner, Tim Curry, Kiss, Aerosmith, Peter Gabriel, and Air Supply. Songs he wrote or co-wrote include "Only Women Bleed," "Welcome to my Nightmare," and "Shine Silently" with Nils Lofgren. Becoming something of a journeyman songwriter, he shifted his home base from Michigan to New York to Arizona to Nashville to San Antonio and worked with a variety of performers in a variety of styles and he's still at it.
Moving in such circles, it's not surprising Wagner would make cocaine a destructive aspect of his life. Along with the other attributes of hard rocking tours, it's also not surprising Wagner left behind a mixed record with relationships both with women and his children. Ultimately, of course, Wagner went through his crucibles of rehab and reformation and surviving a heart attack to become a teacher to younger generations of songwriters while returning to the stage and the recording studio with his powers still in full flower.
Now, this dry summary can't hope to capture the flavor and style of this engaging and humorously conversational look into Wagner's fractured rearview mirror. He's obviously aware all the name dropping is what will bring him his readership, but it's the casual asides and wry observations that are going to keep us turning the pages even when Wagner isn't talking about rocking with the rich and famous. It should be mentioned a digital version of this book has been available for a year, but the new hardcopy edition has the major and generous bonus of two CDs of Wagner music. Worthy of two separate reviews of their own, these discs aren't bargain basement tape throwaways. While there are a few obvious works in progress on disc One, Full Meltdown is a collection of "lost songs" Wagner recorded between 1979 and 1995. Disc two is the hard-driving, very polished and literate Skinner Rat, a set by Dr. Gary Telgenhoff with soaring guitar from Wagner. A case can be made that these discs are the real main events with the attached book the bonus gift.
The bottom line is: anyone, absolutely anyone into rock and roll will find more than enough in both style and substance to enjoy Wagner's trip into rock's dark and electric corners. If you can only read two or three good memoirs this year, Not Only Women Bleed should be on that list. Follow Here To Purchase NOT ONLY WOMEN BLEED, Vignettes from the Heart of a Rock Musician