Mark Farner Says Alice Cooper’s Guitarist Showed Him How To Write Songs

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Former Grand Funk Railroad singer Mark Farner spoke to Artists On Record and shared the story of he wrote his first song thanks to the late Alice Cooper guitarist Dick Wagner. The musician recalled the times while they were playing together and the lesson that he learned from the guitarist.

Dick Wagner’s career as a songwriter and guitarist was successful, considering his works with The Frost, The Bossmen, Alice Cooper, KISS, and many other bands. However, it can be said that his popularity arose when he became Cooper’s principal co-writer, lead guitarist, and band director in 1974. Wagner contributed to his various albums, such as ‘Alice Cooper Goes To Hell,’ ‘The Alice Cooper Show,’ ‘Lace and Whiskey,’ and more.

Along with his successful projects with The Godfather of Shock Rock, Wagner collaborated with Mark Farner, his former bandmate from The Bossmen, as producer and co-songwriter for the singer’s self-titled debut solo studio album. Farner remembered when Wagner asked him where these songs came from, and he responded to it, saying that they came from within, as he told him years ago. He stated that he was eighteen years old while playing with the band and needed the guitarist’s advice.

During his interview, Farner revealed that he wanted to learn how he wrote these amazing songs from Wagner, and the songwriter’s answer was significant. Wagner touched the singer’s heart like he was opening a key and emphasized that all of these songs were there and he had to find them. Therefore, Farner stayed up all night and created his first song entitled ‘Heartbreaker.’ It seems that it’s one of the milestone moments in his life and career.

In Farner’s words, he said:

“Dick Wagner produced that album, and he said, ‘Man, where is that song coming from?’ I said, ‘It’s coming from within just like you told me, Dick.’ Because Dick Wagner, the guitar player for Alice Cooper, The Bossmen in Michigan. When I was in The Bossmen, I was eighteen years old; we went back to Dick’s apartment after we played out one night up in Nothern, Michigan. We sat and played our electric guitars. His wife and kids were in the other room sleeping.

We’re playing without being plugged in that electric guitar which wasn’t very loud, but you can learn things. That’s what Dick was showing me chord inversions. I asked him, ‘Where do you get all these songs? Where the hell they come from?’ Dick wrote all these songs. He said, ‘They come from within.’ He reached over and touched me right here, said, ‘They’re right in there, Mark. You can write songs.’ I said, ‘I can.’ It was like he took the key, and there it was; he turned that thing over. I stayed up when Dick went to bed and wrote the first song I ever wrote, ‘Heartbreaker.'”

You can watch the interview below.