Throughout his music career, Dick Wagner, who played lead guitar and wrote songs for rock legends Alice Cooper, Aerosmith, Kiss, and more, donated generous amounts of the money he made to children’s charities. Now, his philanthropic legacy will continue March 24 at the 3rd Annual Dick Wagner Remember the Child Benefit Concert.
The past two years, the event sold out its shows at The Fillmore in Detroit. This year, MotorCity Casino has donated its Sound Board venue to the charity. “It saves us a lot of money which was very gracious of them, but also they have this incredible high-tech ability with lights, and LED, and audio,” says Susan Michaelson, founder and CEO of the Dick Wagner Memorial Fund.
This year’s lineup features rock, blues, and orchestral musicians who have volunteered to play because of their connection to Wagner. “Either he’s been their friend or they played in bands together or he was their hero in music,” says Michaelson. Headliner Suzi Quatro toured with Wagner and Alice Cooper in 1975. Wagner taught Mark Farner, another headlining act who was a founding member of Grand Funk Railroad, how to play guitar.
Blues singer Thornetta Davis, Johnny Bee Badanjek, four-time Detroit Music Award winner Dennis Burr, and Traverse City’s The Accidentals will also represent Michigan at this year’s concert.
Michaelson says the bands don’t just play one after another. “They all interact so that you have this completely new magic happening in every song. It’s beautiful.”
All proceeds from the event will help children’s hospitals hire board certified music therapists and purchase instruments. “We gave away about $25,000 the first year and $25,000 the second,” says Michaelson. This year, the foundation has added Hurley Children’s Hospital in Flint to the list of beneficiaries. The foundation says studies have shown that music therapy improves cognitive function damaged by lead poisoning.
Both VIP ticket options offer a meet and greet, priority seating, free drink tickets, and a gift bag. A “Super” VIP ticket includes a private invite to the final rehearsal, dinner with performers and cash bar the day before the benefit on March 23.
“It’s just exquisite,” Michaelson says. “The passion, the music, the talent… the 30 people playing have absolutely monumental talent.”