By Metal Dave
One night during the mid-1980s, I walked into one of those apartment complex keg parties where a bunch of hopped-up teens and barely legal headbangers were pissing away the deposit on a rented poolside clubhouse. This being San Antonio, a popular local band called AZIZ was blasting Saxon’s “Power & the Glory” to the dismay of surrounding tenants. It was basically a heavy metal version of “Animal House,” which is to say it was friggin’ awesome!
Suddenly – and to the surprise of no one – the cops arrived in a blinding buzzkill of flashing blue and red. We scrambled like rats from a flood until I found myself in the backseat of a random getaway car. As we sped away, my newfound accomplices decided to keep the party going at some dude’s apartment. Who was I to argue? Let’s roll.
The first thing I saw when I entered the place was a framed, gold-certified copy of Alice Cooper’s “Welcome to my Nightmare” album. Whoa! At that point in my life, I had never beheld such a crowning rock-n-roll jewel. Where am I? And who owns this sparkling beauty? “It’s mine,” said a voice from across the room. “My dad played guitar on that album.” Get outta here! Really? Hey, wait a minute, aren’t you the singer for AZIZ? “Yeah, my name’s Robert. Welcome to my pad. We split as fast as we could after the cops showed up.” Dude, nice to meet you!
And that was it. I’m not sure Robert and I bumped into each other again until some 20 years later in a 7-11 parking lot in deep south Austin. I was walking out and he was sitting on his motorcycle. We gave each other that familiar stare. Dude, is that you? Wow! How ya been? You live here now? Me, too. And so we reconnected.
Years later, we connected again on Facebook. When I posted some pictures of my new home being built, Robert offered a congratulatory comment about my future digs. Being a smart ass, I mentioned how much nicer my new home would be with a framed, gold-certified “Welcome to my Nightmare” album hanging on the wall. Robert sent me his address and told me to pay him a visit. He had something for me. Could it be? No way! I was giddy with anticipation.
When I got to his place, Robert said he didn’t have a spare “Welcome to my Nightmare” album (who does?), but would gladly give me the next best thing: a framed, gold-certified single of Alice Cooper’s 1976 hit, “I Never Cry,” co-written and performed by Robert’s father, guitarist Dick Wagner, who also had worked with Aerosmith, Lou Reed and KISS, among others. “I Never Cry” nearly made me cry.
In a house filled with a lifetime of rock-n-roll memorabilia, few things are cooler than Robert’s one-of-a-kind gift, which today hangs smack in the middle of my living room for all my guests to admire. Sadly, Dick “Maestro” Wagner passed away about a year after “moving into” my home.
Thank you, Robert, for your generosity and friendship. Telling the story of you and your Dad makes me humble and proud. I’ll never hear this song the same way again.