BBC RADIO 2 Tuesday 11 July 2006
Dean Reed - Death Of A Comrade
Tuesday 11 July
8.30-9.30pm BBC Radio 2
Mark Lamarr looks at the life and mysterious death of American
Dean Reed. Often dubbed the Red Elvis or the Communist Johnny Cash, Dean was virtually unknown in the
Western world but became one of the Soviet bloc's biggest stars.
Dean was a committed
and was, in the Sixties and Seventies, the biggest "pop" star in the socialist bloc. Signed to
as a teenager, Dean became successful in
where his beliefs were formed. Those beliefs later got him thrown out of both countries. He moved to
Italy where, in the late Sixties, he enjoyed a prolific career starring in a number of
including Adios Sabata with Yul Brynner.
After a number of successful visits to the USSR and other Eastern bloc countries Dean made his
home in the DDR from 1971. He quickly established himself as a
and prolific recording artist and received many honours, including the
Order of Lenin
from Leonid Brezhnev. However, with the onset of Glasnost and changes in taste, his popularity
began to wane in the early Eighties.
Dean became depressed and
aged 47, in mysterious circumstances at Zeuthner Lake near East Berlin. His death, in 1986, gave rise
to many theories: some say he was executed by the CIA, others say a jealous lover killed him, or even
that he committed suicide.
Contributors to the programme include
(American defector and Dean's German translator),
(American film-maker and director of
American Rebel: The Dean Reed Story),
Stefan Ernsting (author, Der Rote Elvis)
and Phil Everly.
Presenter/Mark Lamarr, Producer/Bob McDowall
BBC Birmingham Publicity