Times-News Burlington/North Carolina 15.06.1972
Dean Reed - A Puppet Of No One, His Own Man, Stands On His Own
By Waka Tsunoda
NEW YORK (AP) - So what's a nice, American boy like you doing becoming a singing idol in Russia, starring in spaghetti westerns, and getting arrested in Chile for symbolically washing the American flag to show his support for Marxist President Allende?
"Look, I accept no political labels," says pop singer Dean Reed. "I'm a puppet of nobody. I'm my own man. I just stand on certain moral principles.
I'll work with anybody who is working toward the progress of mankind at any particular moment. I love America. That's why I sometimes criticize it. The slogan, love me or leave me, is a misconception. If you love her, you stay with her, and try to correct whatever's wrong with her."
In the U.S.S.R., Reed has sung before a record 160,000 people in the Lenin Sports Palace, and has been mobbed by screaming fans. His records have sold more than four millions.
"That I'm popular in Russia is not due to political reasons. I'm popular because I can communicate emotions. Russians are emotional and are wonderful audiences. When I sang 'My Yiddish a Mama,' the entire crowd cried. Compared to Russian artists who are stiff in stage manner, I'm open. I don't let the stage separate me and the audience."
The 33-year-old former University of Colorado meteorology major might have been working in the weather bureau today if it had not been for an impoverished band leader he met in 1952 on his way to Los Angeles to do some sightseeing. "If you pay my motel bills," the musician suggested to Reed, "I'll introduce you to a song publisher."
As a result, Reed, who had been working his way through college as a dude-ranch cowboy, entertaining people with his self-taught country music, was signed to a seven-year contract with a recording company. In 1961, he was sent on a personal appearance tour to Latin America, where one of his records had become a hit.
During the next four years there, Reed sang protest songs he had written in hospitals and schools, published a collection of his poems and essays, and gave the proceeds to a Chilean peace movement. "All my protest songs are love songs. If you love mankind, you must protest injustice.
I was in Helsinki in 1965 for the World Congress of Peace representing the Argentine," he says. "Russia invited me to Moscow. I sang on television. It was so well received that they invited me to do a concert tour in 1966 and again in 1971. I lost my voice and finished the last half of the 1971 tour this year."
Reed, blond, blue-eyed and 6 feet 1, got into Italian movies because a producer happened to like his One of his films, "Adios! Zapata!," in which he stars with Yul Brynner, has been released here. Reed expects to start shooting his 12th movie soon in Italy. Also on his agenda is a film for East Germany. "This is the first time they have invited an actor from a capitalist country," he says.