United International Press 1975
Olga, Ivan go wild over Colorado's Dean Reed
By Barry James
YOU CAN KEEP the Beatles and forget Frank Sinatra. The Led Zeppelin are nowhere in the Kremlin, man. In the Communist Party, The Who are merely, the who? Mick Jagger, the Pink Floyd and Elvis Presley are forbidden practitioners of bourgeois culture.
But Dean Reed, the famous American pop star and heartthrob of the Soviet masses, is something else again.
Well, Dean Reed is arguably the most famous American in the Soviet Union after President Ford.
BEMEDALED MATRONS in boxy, masculine suits melt like teenagers in his presence and shyly beg for his autograph. Teenyboppers swoon when he comes on stage in shimmering shirt and velvet pants, and squeal when he wiggles his hips.
People line up all night to buy tickets for his concerts. His records, four LPs so far, sell by the millions according to the state monopoly, Melodiya.
His name is plastered all over town in announcements of his fourth concert tour here. Most Americans who bother to notice think Reed is a Russian with an anglicized name.
In fact, he was born 37 years ago in Denver, was a track star at Wheat Ridge High School in the 1950s and attended the University of Colorado in Boulder.
Reed comes on like early Paul Anka, crooning into a microphone as scores of young girls sigh "Oh Djeen" with mascara running down their cheeks.
Where else could a pop star knock them in the aisles by singing "My Yiddisher Momma" to an enraptured lady in the fifth row?
THE BOYISH-LOOKING Reed is clean-cut in appearance and in politics too, as far as the Kremlin is concerned. He is truly one of the converted who follows the party line but says with an engaging smile: "I don't like to argue about politics. I'm just a guy who likes peace and people."
Backed by an East German band, Reed sings mostly love ballads with some mild rock and "protest songs" denouncing "imperialism and capitalism". Reed lives in East Berlin with his East German second wife.
He said an "autobiographical" movie called "Blood Brothers" is this year's most popular film in East Germany. In it, he appears as a pacifist cowboy who joins an Indian tribe. He parallels the film with his own life as a pacifist American joining the East Germans.
Reed comes from a conservative background. He said his father - who lives near San Diego, Calif. "but wants to move to Arizona so he can vote for Goldwater" - strongly disapproves of his politics.
He made three records in the United States but moved to Latin Americawhen they proved more popular south of the border than at home. There he became involved with revolutionary movements and became a committed Marxist, he said, because of the contrast between wealth and poverty.
LATER HE MOVED TO ROME and made several spathetti Westerns, some of which made him well-known in Poland.
Reed strums his guitar and sings at concerts and youth festivals throughout Eastern Europe, in the process winning the Czechoslovak and Hungarian peace prizes and a medal from the Czechoslovak Young Communist League.
He appeared in the United States earlier this year at concerts organized by the Communist party and other "progressive" groups.
Soviet fans say they cannot believe Reed is not as famous in his homeland as he is here.