Former Alice Cooper Guitarist Returns To The Road After Battling Severe Medical Issues
Wagner took the stage last week in Detroit for his first show in five years after battling a lengthy list of medical issues. A heart attack and stroke left Wagner unable to play the guitar, and the musical veteran faced numerous additional challenges in the years that followed including kidney failure, a coma. To make things worse, this past January, he suffered a near-fatal blood clot.
The stroke left Wagner with the particularly unique challenge of a paralyzed left arm. He endured two years of physical therapy to regain the ability to play the signature licks that once came so easily to his fingertips.
"It was so terrible at first," he explains to the Detroit Free Press. "I had to reteach myself what I already knew. It was a lot of work, a lot of stress, but I came through it with sheer determination and some brilliant doctors."
The emerging world of social media also gave Wagner something to work towards when he realized how many fans were out there offering virtual support as he worked through his situation.
"It really shaped my feelings about people in general," he says. "I'd been down on life. Social media brought me back. It showed there were people who cared about me and loved my music."
Alice Cooper got the old band back together for this year’s ‘Welcome 2 My Nightmare,’ with Wagner co-writing ‘Something To Remember Me By’ with Alice and lending his guitar to the album closing ‘Underture.’
Fellow former Alice Cooper/Lou Reed band member Prakash John is joining Wagner for the current crop of shows, marking the first time in more than 30 years that the pair have played together.
Wagner is also working on an autobiography and both are activities that he’s happy to be able to do.
"There's a lot of busy energy. I'm just thankful to whatever higher power for being alive," he says. "It's a miracle that I'm here -- that I was spared to do what I think I was born to do."