Los Angeles Times, June 22, 1986
U.S. Singer Popular in Eastern Bloc Dies
BERLIN - Dean Reed, an American-born folk singer who had lived in Communist East Germany since 1972, has died from a "tragic accident," the state-run ADN news agency reported. He was 47.
The brief ADN dispatch did not give the type of accident or say when it occurred, but his mother, Ruth Anna Brown, said in Honolulu she was told Reed died Tuesday morning while swimming in a lake near his home.
Unknown in Home Country
Reed was virtually unknown in his native country but was mobbed when appearing in the Soviet Union and other Eastern European countries, where his boyish, blue-eyed good looks and work to promote world peace won him many fans.
He was the only American - he retained his U.S. citizenship - to receive the Lenin prize for art and had peace prizes from several East European nations.
Reed, born in Colorado, left the United States in 1962 and lived in Mexico and Italy before moving to East Germany. He worked as an actor and film director, but was most widely known in the Soviet Bloc as a singer, ADN said.
Reed returned to his hometown of Denver last October for the first time in 25 years for the premiere of "American Rebel," an American-made documentary about his life that was shown at the Denver International Film Festival.
He told the Associated Press during the visit that he hoped to live in America again because he feared dying in another country.
"He loved America," his mother said. "He just expected more from it than sometimes we were able to live up to."
Reed campaigned against the use of nuclear weapons, ADN said, and traveled frequently to Latin American countries "in the cause of peace."
Protest Songs on Chile
Reed said last year that he had starred in 18 films and made 13 albums. He gave concerts in 32 countries, singing protest songs about Chile's military government and the U.S. support of Nicaraguan rebels, but he also helped take American rock music to Eastern Europe with renditions of hits such as "Blue Suede Shoes" and "Tutti Frutti."
He said in the AP interview that he hoped to unite people of different ideologies in his quest for world peace. "I think if somebody has to put a label on me, the only label I accept is that I'm an artist of love," he said.
He is survived by his wife, East German actress Renate Blume-Reed, and her son whom he adopted; daughters Ramona of Los Angeles and Natalie in Berlin, both from previous marriages; and two brothers.