A power ballad helped bring down the Soviet Union. Was it written by the CIA? Journalist Patrick Radden Keefe investigates the secret history of Cold War espionage and heavy metal.
Wind Of Change is an Original Series from Pineapple Street Studios, Crooked Media and Spotify.
LANGLEY, VIRGINIA, 2011:
The Scorpions’ song “Wind of Change” became the soundtrack to the end of the Cold War. But decades later, New Yorker investigative journalist Patrick Radden Keefe heard a rumor from a trusted source: the Scorpions didn’t write the song. The CIA did.
KIEV, UKRAINE, 2019: Patrick flies to Ukraine and witnesses how fully the political message of “Wind of Change” still resonates with fans at a Scorpions show in Kiev. Plus: what does the CIA say when you come right out and ask about the agency’s connection to the band?
LAGOS, NIGERIA, 1961: One of America’s most beloved singers died without ever knowing that during the Cold War she had been used by the CIA. And a 40-year-old mystery resurfaces: when the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band was picked to tour behind the Iron Curtain in 1977, was an undercover CIA officer planted among their entourage?
LENINGRAD, USSR, 1988: Patrick finds another person who has told an eerily similar story about the Scorpions and the CIA. But he won’t answer emails, so Patrick travels to a GI Joe convention in Dayton, Ohio to try to make contact. Plus, a former CIA clandestine officer suggests there may be other musical acts still collaborating with the agency.
MOSCOW, USSR, 1989: Klaus Meine, the lead singer of the Scorpions, has said for 30 years that the Moscow Music Peace Festival in 1989 inspired him to write “Wind of Change.” Bon Jovi, booze, Ozzy Osbourne, cocaine, fireworks, fist fights, the KGB -- Patrick takes you step by step through the wildest music festival in Russian history. But something about the concert doesn’t add up.
CAYMAN ISLANDS, 1982: The Scorpions’ manager Doc McGhee has a secret past: he played a role in one of the largest drug busts in U.S. history, working with a smuggling ring that included CIA asset (and Panamanian dictator) Manuel Noriega. Nearly everyone went to prison. But Doc didn’t serve a day. Patrick heads to Naples, Florida, to find out why Doc threw a rock festival in Moscow instead of going to prison.
MOSCOW, RUSSIA, 2019: On a boat ride down the Moskva River, Patrick starts to fear that this entire podcast could itself be CIA propaganda. Or worse, Ksenia, his Russian fixer points out: propaganda by the successors to the KGB.
HANOVER, GERMANY, 2020: There is one last person Patrick needs to ask about “Wind of Change.” At a small hotel in sleepy Hanover, Germany, it is time to confront Klaus Meine about his biggest hit.
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