When I was in my favorite bookstore yesterday, I saw a brand new book called "How The Beatles Rocked The Kremlin" by former British spy, Leslie Woodhead. Looking through it, I could see it's an absorbing account of how western pop music played a big role in undermining communism and helped win the cold war.
As expected, I found several references in the book to Stas Namin, my producer in Moscow whose production of my "Dorian Gray" is still in an open-ended run at The Stas Namin Centre in Gorky Park. Namin is a cultural hero in Russia, as famous there as Paul McCartney is in the west. His group "Flowers" was inspired by The Beatles, and initially banned by the communist government. After the fall of communism, Namin's fame skyrocketed from out of the illegal underground into the mainstream, and he became the producer for numerous other rock groups who could finally play their music out in the open.
It sounds like an interesting and entertaining read Randy. Foreign culture creep was definitely part of the change that was going on in Russia and the rest of the the Soviet Union at the time. I'm sure it hastened the demise of the communists.
By the mid to late seventies it really looked like communism was going to eventually dominate the world but cracks were starting to show in a economic system that was running out of steam. The Western Powers just weren't aware of how fragile the Soviets really were. They had just enough guns but they were running out of butter. By late 1991 the jig was up. Russia was actually a struggling third world country with nuclear weapons.
You're so right, Phil. Pop music, and The Beatles in particular, were indeed a major factor in the demise of the old regime in Russia.
I remember when Communism fell, NBC or one of the major TV networks, did a story about Stas Namin's group "Flowers," showing what an explosion of joy was happening all over the country as rock music came out of the shadows and into the spotlight.
Here's one of the most amazing concerts you could ever see. I have this in my DVD collection - was a bit dismayed, but not surprised, to find this morning that someone has the entire thing up at YouTube-- "Paul McCartney in Red Square." Finally a Beatle performed in Russia (2003/2004) and the audiences were the most ecstatic you'll ever see. They were completely swept up with power of the historical significance of Paul's appearance, singing along, laughing, crying - It's incredibly moving.
It's an excellent video, with footage of Paul touring Russia and meeting people in-between footage of his concerts.
"Paul McCartney in Red Square is a live DVD by Paul McCartney, released in June 2005. It is composed of footage taken during his concerts in Moscow's Red Square and St Petersburg's Palace Square. Songs from Beatles, Wings and solo albums are performed. Each song is interspersed with interviews regarding the Beatles' banning in the Soviet Union in the 1960s, and how fans had to spend large sums of money on buying records from the black market."
What's truly amazing is that this revolution took place with out a fire being shot. When you read about what happened in Tiananmen Square in China in 1989 and the fact that the young people of China are still being lied to about this and much of the rest of their history, it's nice to know that at least in Russia and other former soviet block countries freedom of thought is alive and well.
Not disagreeing at all with the influence of western music, and especially the Beetles music, on the collapse of communism. Bloodlessly, and pleasantly....
Please, do not forget the people of Hungary and Poland, who proved that the terror of communism is not invincible, costing many thousands to die in the process. The "silk" revolution of Czechoslovakia was also made possible through the blood of the Hungarians and the incredible heroism of the Polish workers. The final collapse of the Soviet-union would not have been possible without their sacrifice.
The then US president Reagan's cry: " Mr. Gorbachev tear those walls down" did NOT cause the wall to fall down.
We were the ones whose blood weakened the foundation of that wall, so that economic and cultural pressure of the West could finally succeed.
And thanks also to the Beatles....