The Biography of a Man Both Famous and Obscure, At Once
Dean Reed is someone more Americans should know. He (1938-1986) was an American rock and roll star ... everywhere
east of the Iron Curtain. He was also a film star,
well-known throughout Eastern Europe, Communist Asia, Central and South America. And he was a practicing
Socialist, as well.
Author Chuck Laszewski does a fine job of providing a thorough overview of the how's and why's of Reed's
life - including why this very American boy turned Red at the height of the Cold War, and why regardless of this fact,
Reed still called himself "a good American".
The book is well-paced, insightful and entertaining. Laszewski doles out facts like a good mystery novelist,
keeping the reader in suspense until the end. Dean Reed died under mysterious circumstances in East Berlin in 1986.
The circumstances of his demise have been the cause of much speculation ever since then. Laszewski addresses
all of the conspiracy theories objectively and with fine detail. At the end, he provides a theory of his own,
based on as much information as is available, bringing his book to a satisfying conclusion.
If you enjoy a good page-turning mystery, biography, history or rock and roll, you'll find Rock n' Roll Radical
to be an enjoyable read. I know I did.
Bartleby the Scrivener (Mayberry, SC), amazon.com book review, August 28, 2006
I respectively recommend that you take what you read about my younger brother with a grain of salt.
If you do not have first hand knowledge of what Dean, and those around him, actually thought,
what was said, and even more importantly what was done I advise you to reserve judgment on the
effects of our lives here on earth.
For sure, many of the things I have read about Dean, those things I actually know about, were not true.
Especially his motivations which were by and large the same as mine.
I can tell you for sure I am a free-market, customer determines the price, capitalist.
Which is what most people are who are telling the truth.
Who is John Galt?
Dale R. Reed, January 28, 2006
Ich empfehle jeweils, dass ihr das, was ihr über meinen jüngeren Bruder lest, nicht
für bare Münze nehmt. Wenn ihr nicht aus erster Hand wisst, was Dean und diejenigen
um ihn herum wirklich dachten, was gesagt wurde und noch wichtiger, was getan wurde, rate ich euch,
euch zurückzuhalten mit der Beurteilung der Einflüsse auf unser Leben hier auf der Erde.
Ganz sicher ist vieles von dem, was ich über Dean gelesen habe, worüber ich aber wirklich
Bescheid weiß, nicht wahr. Besonders seine Motivation, die im Großen und Ganzen dieselbe
wie meine war. Ich kann euch ganz sicher sagen, dass ich ein Kapitalist des freien Maktes bin,
der Kunde bestimmt den Preis. Und so sind die meisten Leute, die die Wahrheit sagen.
Wer ist John Galt?
A Former Classmate Heard a Different Drummer
How does a kid from a politically conservative family go from 1950s middle 'Merica to end his life in 1980's
East Germany? And, oh, by the way, become a celebrated singer, entertainer, TV personality and film star
in both Latin America and behind the Iron Curtain? It was by chance and circumstance, and it makes for a
fascinating story, especially for someone who knew him.
There is some common ground between Dean and me. Near the same time in our lives, our 20s, we both were drawn
to live in other countries. And, aside from graduating from Wheatridge High School in Colorado in the same class,
we married women who were roommates at Colorado Women's College in Denver.
At another level, Dean and I shared another similarity, we were attracted to socialism as a reasonable alternative
to capitalism as a result of our experience living outside the US. My transformation came after reading Erich Fromm's
"The Sane Society" in 1968 and appreciating the value of Canada's universal health care and social welfare systems.
The change in Dean was more dramatic and began by being befriended by a man who became his mentor,
It was honed as a result of his exposure to the plight of the oppressed in countries like
As his political convictions grew, his role changed, causing him to become a champion of the downtrodden in
addition to maintaining his celebrity.
In 1964, he said:
"'South America changed my life because there the difference of justice and injustice, poverty and wealth are so clear.
So you have to take stand. I became a revolutionary. You were either for the status quo which means for the twenty
percent who have all the wealth and all the power or you will stand with the eighty percent who were illiterate,
who were hungry who somehow wanted a better future. I felt this fame, that by destiny I had in South America,
had to be dedicated to this eighty percent.'"
Aside from politics, his growing anti-American tendencies were fueled by the marked contrast his performance efforts
garnered in the US versus his experience abroad. Here, he had one record that barely edged into the top 100,
Our Summer Romance.
In Chile and Argentina, however, it made him a star.
It was curiosity that caused him, in 1961, to borrow money to buy a ticket to Chile to check out the sales his
Capitol recording was creating. He was shocked to find himself a cause celebre when he got off the plane.
The next 17 days were spent making appearances on radio and television and performing to adoring fans.
Then, it was back to the US and anonymity.
Because of his popularity in Latin America, Reed continued to travel there. By 1964, he and his first wife,
moved to Buenos Aires, Argentina, and his political activism increased.
In 1966, the Reeds moved to Europe, settling in Spain, which was still ruled by the fascist Franco. During his time
in Argentina and now Spain, Reed began visiting and performing in the Soviet Union.
In 1970, Reed went to Chile and helped campaign for the election of
When Allende won, Reed was invited to perform at the inauguration. Since Allende was a socialist, his days were numbered,
and he was assassinated in a US supported coup in 1973.
In '71, Reed began spending time in East Germany and became attracted to
Dorndeck, an East German. This prompted a divorce from his now estranged wife, and in 1973, he
Wiebke and settled down in East Germany, which was to remain his home until he committed suicide in 1986 at age 48.
He had remarried Renate Blume, another East German, in 1981.
Reed returned to Colorado for a visit, and the trip kindled a desire to return to the US, but his wife,
Renate wasn't in favor of leaving Germany, and increasing depression and addiction to pain medications and sleeping pills
seem to have rendered Reed somewhat incapacitated or incapable of functioning clearly.
Given the times we now live in, a time when a non elected poseur proudly flaunts his stand above the law,
there was one passage in a letter written by Reed to his daughter
in the US on July 4, 1983, that resonated for me. It was written prior to a trip to Pinochet ruled Chile:
"I know there that there is some risk to my life and my well-being, but each human being must be willing to risk
something so that other human beings have the possibility to live in freedom and in peace."
I hope the story that
is planning to produce a film of Dean's life is true. Dean may not have always lived well, but he certainly lived fully.
Dean Reed is buried back home in Colorado at Green Mountain Cemetery in Boulder.
Jerry, Picks Commentary - Book Review, December 19, 2005
What a Life
Rock 'n' Roll Radical is a fascinating look at the life and death of an international star. The author has
skillfully blended the star side of Dean Reed - hungry for fame and applause - with the activist - hungry for
justice and human rights. Played on the global stage against the backdrop of the Cold War, we witness the life of
a Colorado cowboy filled with women, protests, Communism, arrests, movies, espionage, torture, and rock 'n' roll,
all culminating in a body found floating in a lake behind the Iron Curtain.
Denise Jenison (Cleveland, OH), amazon.com book review, November 26, 2005
Contemporary History and Mystery
Rock and Roll Radical provides a fast-paced and well researched biography of a relatively
unknown American "radical" - Dean Reed. Reed, while virtually unknown in the U.S., was a very
popular movie star and "rock 'n' roll" singer in South America and the former communist bloc
countries of Eastern Europe. Reed participated in and witnessed many of the significant political
and social events emanating from the late 1950's to the 1970's. Learning of Reed and how events
shaped his actions and opinions provides the reader with a broader view of contemporary history.
Surrounding this entire story is an excellent narrative that compels the reader to turn to the back
of the book to learn more about the mysterious circumstances of Reed's death in East Berlin.
S. Hard, amazon.com book review, November 23, 2005
Not only did Chuck put words in our mouths but also ideas in our heads.
One example is neither Dad
nor I are "conservatives" but are libertarian capitalists.
All of us Reeds want all individuals to be happy, healthy, and free to control their lives
working and buying what they want to. Dean competed in the competitive free market of movies
and music, providing his audience a service they were willing to pay for.
But my main complaint is the mislabeling of Dean as a Stasi Spy. Spies sneak around gathering information
on unsuspecting folks who do not know they are being spied on. Everyone knew who Dean was and what he did
for a living. What Dean did was entertain millions of people who loved to hear him sing and perform. My brother
was not a spy for anyone!
Dale R. Reed, November 23, 2005
Rock'n'Roll Radical" von Chuck Laszewski
Der Titel klingt ziemlich reißerisch, der Einband erinnert an Andy Warhol - aber was versteckt
sich nun hinter dem neuen Dean-Reed-Buch des Amerikaners Chuck Laszewski?
Es handelt sich um eine solide recherchierte und professionell geschriebene Biographie. Der Autor
ist Journalist und hat nach eigener Angabe 14 Jahre lang an dem Buch gearbeitet. Dazu reiste er mehrmals
nach Colorado, führte zahllose Telefonate und sah Deans Stasi-Akten ein.
Zu seinen Gewährsleuten zählten
Phil Everly, Ruth Anna Brown
(Deans Mutter), sein Bruder
Dale Reed und vor allem seine erste
Hieraus ist schon ein interessanter Trend dieses Buches zu erkennen: es behandelt mit bisher noch nicht
da gewesener Ausführlichkeit die Zeit, bevor Dean in die DDR kam. Etwa die Hälfte des Buches
beschäftigt sich mit Deans Zeit in den USA und in Südamerika. Da Patricia einen großen
Teil Ihrer Erinnerungen mit beisteuerte, erfahren wir sehr viel über Deans erste Ehe, über
die Informationen bisher spärlich waren. Zahlreiche zitierte Briefe erlauben intime Einblicke in
Wo es nötig ist, ergänzt der Autor seine Berichte durch Dialoge, die zwar von ihm geschrieben
wurden, sich aber auf Augenzeugenberichte stützen. Das Buch gewinnt dadurch an Leben.
Laszewski vermeidet es, seine persönliche Meinung zu den Geschehnissen und zu Dean zu äußern
und beschränkt sich auf Fakten bzw. Aussagen von Zeitzeugen. Dies ist bei einer Biographie zu
begrüßen, man denke als abschreckendes Beispiel nur an das Buch von Reggie Nadelson
Der Autor wurde übrigens 1978
auf Dean aufmerksam, als er Student an der Universität von Minnesota war. Er wohnte der
Aufführung eines Dean-Reed-Filmes bei und erlebte danach
Deans Verhaftung bei den Farmer-Protesten.
Nach dem Anschluss der DDR war es ihm möglich, Zugang zu weiterem Material zu erhalten.
Dieses wurde, soweit nachvollziehbar, sorgfältig gesichtet und ausgewertet.
Herr Laszewski zitiert Deans kompletten Abschiedsbrief in englischer Übersetzung,
darunter auch die
kompromittierenden Passagen. Da dieser Brief leider schon
in der Vergangenheit mehrfach in diversen "Revolverblättern" abgedruckt war, ist es nichts
neues, obwohl es zumindest bei mir einen schlechten Beigeschmack hinterlässt.
Auch wenn der Autor das letzte Kapitel mit "Who killed Dean Reed?" überschreibt, lassen auch
seine Ermittlungen keinen Zweifel an Deans Suizid. Er schildert aber auch, wie Renate Blume - zweifellos
unter Schock - nach Deans Verschwinden Deans Mutter gegenüber am Telefon falsche Angaben machte
und dadurch für einige Verwirrung bei der amerikanischen Verwandschaft sorgte und damit
gewisse "Verschwörungstheorien" nährte.
Bis auf einige kleine sachliche Fehler, die zumeist auf falschen Übersetzungen deutscher Texte
basieren, habe ich keine Kritik an dem Buch zu üben.
Zu berücksichtigen ist allerdings, dass sich weite Passagen auf Erinnerungen diverser Zeitzeugen
berufen, die schlecht zu überprüfen sind. Dem guten Gesamteindruck tut dies aber keinen
Abbruch - im Gegensatz zum mageren Bildteil mit schlechten Reproduktionen nichtssagender Fotos.
Thilo Greiner, 22. November 2005
I've read the book. It is an interesting read, but one must keep in mind that many of the alleged
conversations that supposedly took place are made up. For example, the conversations contributed
to me and Dean never took place as written in the book.
John R. Rosenburg, November 21, 2005
In this latest book that has come out on Dean Reed, my first husband, it tells of our life together
with a lot of pictures... along with exciting other details of Dean who was a Colorado-born
Dean and I had traveled the entertainment and political international world in the 60's and 70's.
He was mysteriously killed in East Germany in 1986.
This writer/reporter, Chuck Laszewski became a good friend, and got me through some tough times
by providing my family with valuable information on Dean's death and I thank him so very much for
caring and not just reporting! Chuck had gone to Germany 14 years ago, when the Wall came down and got the
private police "Stasi" files on Dean. Then he had the 3 volumes translated!
The book is interesting reading... he believes that Dean committed suicide, but I disagree...
see what you think? Also, you might want to visit a Dean Reed web site which provides a lot of information.
Tom Hanks and Dreamworks are planning to produce a movie on Dean called,
"Comrade Rockstar." I am hoping the production will begin in 2006.
A dramatic coach of mine once whispered to me: "Patricia, a rose among many other roses cannot and will
not be noticed, but a rose in a garage can will be noticed in great detail for its beauty..."
Well in saying that, Dean Reed became very famous in other countries, but not in his own hometown, USA.
But, HEY! It looks like that is about to change.
Patricia Reed, November 17, 2005