Athens News, July 25, 1985
"American Rebel" Reed sings love songs in USSR
By Dan Nather
He is known as the Frank Sinatra of Russia. His concerts draw sell-out crowds with very little publicity in Europe, the Soviet bloc, and South America, among other places, and his fans wear iron-on patches pairing him with American singer Donna Summer.
Yet when superstar Dean Reed visited Athens in 1981, nobody noticed, except area filmmaker Will Roberts, who is telling this part of the world his story in his soon-to-be-completed film "American Rebel", set to premiere in Denver, Colo., Reeed's hometown, in October of this year.
Reed was originally groomed as a pop star in this country back in the late '50s and early '60s, having three semi-successful hits on the Capitol label. The third of these, "Our Summer Romance", became a Number 1 hit in South America, and when Capitol sent him down there to promote the song in 1962, he never came back.
He spent four years in South America singing, made a movie in Mexico, and was arrested in Chile for laudering an American flag outside the U.S. Embassy, a gesture he said was symbolic of the fact that America needes to wash itself of Vietnamese blood.
It was the poverty and inhuman conditions he found in South America that inspired his conversion to Marxism.
Such a stance has led many to say that he is anti-American, a claim Reed, who has maintained his U.S. citizenship for the past 23 years, hotly denies. "My enemies might say that, but I think I am the good American," Reed said recently in an interview in Denver Magazine. "I'm the one who truly believes in the revolutionary traditions of our country."
And now that Roberts is making a film about him, interest has increased. Roberts said that the CBS news program 60 Minutes will be filming Reed's performance at the Royal Youth Festival in Russia before an estimated crowd of 80,000 next week for a feature piece. Reed was interviewed by telephone on Gary Tessler's radio show, which was broadcast across the country, and profiled in Denver Magazine. Reed himself is also planning to come to Denver for the world premiere of "American Rebel."
So why all this belated fame for Reed? "Dean Reed's been famous for over a dozen years. He's like a gold mine that the media has been walking by and tapping occasionally," Roberts said. "The interest has grown over the years because there's only so long that the American press can ignore a story and rehash the same stories before they discover the obvious."
The idea that Roberts "discovered" Dean Reed in this country is another that gives both men pause. "I think it is true to a certain extent... that I have been attributed to 'discovering' Dean Reed," Roberts said. "I've made jokes about that to him that his mother would not necessarily approve (of the claim.)
"I think what Dean feels is that he discovered himself. I've only known Dean for about six years and he's been a superstar for more than 25."
But with the premiere of "American Rebel" in three month, Roberts feels that this part of the world will come a little closer to knowing the truth about Dean Reed - not only as a Soviet rock star, but as a true worker for good in the world.
"You shouldn't labe a human and an artist," Reed said. "Just call me a singer of love songs - romantic love, love for others, love for walking in the park, love for political ideas. I'm just a singer of love songs."
And Roberts takes it one step further. "Dean has been called a rock singer, a country singer, a pop singer and a protest singer, but I would call him a love singer. All his songs are love songs, and as Dean himself has said, 'If you love mankind, you must protest injustice.'"