Dick Wagner, famed for his guitar work with Alice Cooper and Lou Reed, is playing a show in Michigan today (November 11) that is some achievement. Wagner suffered a heart attack and stroke five years ago, leaving him unable to play guitar. He then suffered kidney failure, a coma, water on the brain, a head injury from a swimming pool fall and a near-fatal blood clot in January 2011.

“I’ve come back from a lot of major stuff,” Wagner now tells The Detroit Free Press with bluntness.

Wagner is the guitar player on Lou Reed’s Rock ’n’ Roll Animal and many Alice Cooper staples such as Welcome to My Nightmare. He’s also played with Aerosmith, Lou Reed, KISS, Meat Loaf, Steve Perry, Peter Gabriel, Rod Stewart, Little Richard and many more.

He’s always been a sideman: “I never wanted stardom. It’s not what I was born for,” says Wagner. “I’m a musician first and foremost. Whatever stardom I do have is strictly bestowed on me by people who like what I do. All I want, really, is to have great music.”

In recent years, Wagner had to re-teach himself how to play guitar. “It was so terrible at first,” he admits. “It was a lot of work, a lot of stress, but I came through it with sheer determination and some brilliant doctors.”

Wagner reunited with Cooper and producer Bob Ezrin for 2011’s Welcome 2 My Nightmare album, contributing the song “Something to Remember Me By” and guitar work to the album-closing “Underture.”

“It’s a miracle that I’m here ­– that I was spared to do what I think I was born to do,” Wagner said. Gibson.com wishes him well today.

More Dick Wagner:

Elected! A Brief History of Alice Cooper’s Amazing Guitarists