Alice Cooper Pays Tribute to 'Irreplaceable' Guitarist Dick Wagner

'There was just a magic in the way we wrote together,' Cooper says of late collaborator.

Alice Cooper paid tribute to his longtime collaborator Dick Wagner on Wednesday, issuing a statement that extolled the virtues of the late guitarist and songwriter who co-wrote his hits "Only Women Bleed" and "I Never Cry."

Dick Wagner, Guitarist for Alice Cooper Lou Reed & More, Dies at 71

"Even though we know it's inevitable, we never expect to suddenly lose close friends and collaborators," Cooper said. "Dick Wagner and I shared as many laughs as we did hit records. He was one of a kind. He is irreplaceable. His brand of playing and writing is not seen anymore, and there are very few people that I enjoyed working with as much as I enjoyed working with Dick Wagner. A lot of my radio success in my solo career had to do with my relationship with Dick Wagner. Not just on stage, but in the studio and writing. Some of my biggest singles were ballads what I wrote with Dick Wagner. Most of Welcome to My Nightmare was written with Dick. There was just a magic in the way we wrote together. He was always able to find exactly the right chord to match perfectly with what I was doing. I think that we always think our friends will be around as long as we are, so to hear of Dick's passing comes as a sudden shock and an enormous loss for me, Rock N Roll and to his family."

Wagner passed away on Wednesday at the age of 71 from respiratory failure. He was in a Phoenix hospital where he'd had heart surgery earlier in the month and contracted a subsequent lung infection.

Wagner -- who led the bands The Frost and Ursa Major and also worked with Lou Reed, Kiss, Aerosmith and others -- began his association with Cooper on the 1972 album School's Out. He, along with guitarist Steve Hunter, hooked up with Cooper full-time for the Welcome to My Nightmare album and tour, and Wagner stayed with Cooper well into the '80s, playing on albums including Goes to Hell, Lace and Whiskey, From the Inside and Hey Stoopid. Wagner and Cooper reunited for the song "Something to Remember Me By" for Cooper's 2011 sequel Welcome 2 My Nightmare.