Alice Cooper's former guitarist Dick Wagner has died just two weeks after undergoing heart surgery.

The 71 year old musician, who wrote the power ballads I Might as Well Be on Mars and Only Women Bleed, checked into a hospital in Phoenix, Arizona earlier this month (Jul14) after experiencing breathing difficulties. He developed a lung infection after doctors cleared his arteries.

Dogged by health woes in recent years - he previously suffered a heart attack and stroke, as well as kidney failure, and fell into a coma - Wagner's family members were hoping he'd recover from his latest brush with death, but the rocker passed away on Wednesday (30Jul14).

Wagner also worked with Lou Reed, Kiss and Aerosmith, among others, and he was also a member of the groups The Frost and Ursa Major, which briefly featured Billy Joel. However, he was perhaps best known as a member of Cooper's Welcome to My Nightmare band.

He co-wrote six tracks on that album, and toured extensively with Alice throughout the 1970s and early 1980s. He teamed up with Cooper again in 2011 for Welcome 2 My Nightmare.

Paying tribute to the veteran on Wednesday, Kiss star Gene Simmons says, "DICk Wagner was the consummate gentleman axeman. (He) will be missed.