Associated Press 28.10.1985
Soviet-Bloc Star Comes Home to Denver
By Dagmar Obereigner, Associated Press Writer
Denver (AP) - Dean Reed, all-American boy turned Soviet bloc superstar, returned to his hometown this month after a 25-year absence. There was little fanfare.
Reed - singer, actor and socialist activist - is mobbed by autograph seekers in Eastern Europe and is perhaps the most well-known American entertainer there. He is the only American - he retains his U.S. citizenship - to receive the Lenin prize for art and has peace prizes from several East European nations.
Reed arrived in Denver on Oct. 16 for the premiere of "American Rebel," an American-made documentary about his life shown at the Denver International Film Festival. Unlike back home in East Germany, he walked the streets unnoticed in a city where virtually no one knows his name.
The name Dean Reed did make front-page headlines on Oct. 19, after he was thrown off a radio talk show. But his soft-spoken socialism fell mostly on deaf ears during his visit.
Reed, 47, was born in Lakewood and grew up in the Denver area. His youth included 4-H, track and military school. He studied meteorology at the University of Colorado for two years before taking his guitar to Hollywood.
Reed had some minor hits on the Capitol label, but South America is where his music caught on in the early 1960. He took a trip there and stayed and embraced socialism.
His boyish good looks remain today, although a few more lines appear around his blue eyes. His graying hear still is styled in a longish, '70 cut, and he favors wearing denim and cowboy boots.
Reed says he has starred in 18 films and has made 13 albums. He has given concerts in 32 countries, singing protest songs about Chile and Nicaragua but also love songs and American rock like "Blue Suede Shoes" and "Tutti Frutti."
"I think if somebody has to put a label on me, the only label I accept is that I'm an artist of love," Reed said in an interview in his Denver hotel room.
Reed wants to talk and sing to people who don't share his views that socialism is the best way to improve the world, he said. He knows some people think he's naïve or a puppet of the Soviet bloc governments.
"I think I have more facts, I've lived in America, I've lived in the developing countries and I've lived in socialism. And I think I can compare the advantages and disadvantages of both."
His heroes are Che Guevara and Salvador Allende, "because they had a choice, to live or to die," and opted to risk their lives for their cause, Reed said.
"I respect anybody who does something to make the world a better place." Reed said that he, as an American in a unique situation, has "a responsibility to do things. It's like a skier who first skis down a slope. If I make the first track, then it's easier for the second one to come."
While in Colorado, Reed took in the mountains, saw friends and did some filming for a Soviet-East German co-production on Wounded Knee, in which he will star with his wife, East German actress Renate Blume-Reed, and is co-directing.
He also planned to visit friends in Los Angeles - including Phil Everly of the Everly Brothers singing duo - and attend a showing of "American Rebel" in Minneapolis, where he was arrested in 1978 while taking part in a protest over high-power lines on farmland. Reed was to return to East Germany on Nov. 15.
Reed appeared on Peter Boyles' radio talk show soon after Boyels' return from testifying in Seattle at a trial of neo-Nazis l inked to the murder of his friend, Alan Berg.
Discussing the famine in Ethiopia, Boyles blamed the hunger on the Marxist government because of food-distribution snags. Reed blamed it on the drought and said in his characteristic calm voice that Boyles' dogmatic view made the radio personality sound "just like the neo-Nazis that killed Berg."
Boyles replied angrily, "Don't you ever accuse me of that," and ordered him out of the show.
Also, a belligerent caller said Reed was a "traitor" and urged people not to see his film. Reed had a bodyguard for the rest of the film festival.
But he said that was an isolated, unexpected incident and he was glad to be back.
"I'm with my people, and second of all the skies are as blue as I remember, and the mountains are just as beautiful as I remember and the people are as friendly as I remember."
He said he is most impressed with America's technology, "which helps the working people. I go into a store and the working people don't have to add up the prices as they do in socialism. They have the shopping centers where you don't have to take three hours to do shopping. You can do it fast because all of the stores are together."
The contrast of his fame in South America and Eastern Europe and the lack of it in his native country doesn't escape him.
"It does hurt one's feelings, it would hurt anyone's feelings to be known throughout half the world, and not in your country - your classmates not knowing what happened to you."
"But I think after here, a lot of them maybe don't agree with me, but they know at least what I've done now."
His graduating class of Wheat Ridge High School planned a reunion for him this week. "And that's going to be the biggest night of my life, to sit with these people and to talk and say what happened to you, and who are you married with, and how many kids."
Will he ever live in America again? Reed said he has a "great fear" of dying in another country. "I would like to come back to America if there's the right possibility where I was productive and creative and retain my honesty and my integrity and my ideas. At the same time I have a feeling that possibility isn't going to be there."