It’s 1990. The Berlin Wall just fell. The Soviet Union is on the verge of collapse. And the soundtrack to the revolution is one of the best selling songs of all time, the metal ballad “Wind of Change,” by the Scorpions.
Decades later, journalist Patrick Radden Keefe heard a rumor: the song wasn’t written by the Scorpions. It was written by the CIA. This is his journey to find the truth.
Wind of Change is an Original Series from Pineapple Street Studios, Crooked Media and Spotify.
Out Now: Bonus Episodes
Thanks for listening to Wind of Change. We’ve made two additional episodes of the show — a pair of stories that we couldn’t fit into the main season of the podcast, but are so wild we had to share them with you. Both episodes are only available exclusively on Spotify.
The first one is available right now. It’s called "The Love Song of Joanna Stingray." And next Monday, July 13, we’ll drop another episode, called "Rocking Venezuela."
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.
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.
The Doctor Is In
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.
I Follow The Moskva
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.
The KGB Rock Club
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.
Customer ReviewsSee All
Gonzo Division review
A very, very deep, and very, very intriguing rabbithole of journalistic investigation!
Starring your favourite 80’s rock bands*, the CIA, and the KGB...
*Scorpions, Ozzy Osourne, Mötley Crüe, and more...
Can you tell me did the CiA write any other songs😀
Great storytelling.. but implausible
I really enjoyed this series. I grew up in Russia in 1980s and 1990s and vaguely remember Scorpions. We used to slow dance to Wind of Change but I certainly don’t associate it with any kind of change that was happening in the Soviet Union at the time. From 1986 following Gorbachev’s reform of glasnost (openness), Russians were not just listening to the Western music openly (previously my parents were listening to Beatles, Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin but only at home), but a new generation of rock bands appeared on the scene in St Petersburg and Ekaterinburg in particular. Rock clubs opened in these two cities giving a platform for the new brands. The authors of the podcast know that well, they even played two songs by Kino during the series, but without putting much emphasis on that (because of course it would kind of kill the story). There were dozens of rock bands springing up at that time in Russia playing brave new songs, such as Changes! by Kino with the lyrics “Our hearts demand changes, our eyes demand changes”, slightly bolder than the tamed whistle, don’t you think? That song Changes! was featured as a soundtrack to the film ASSA; both the song and the film came out in 1987, three full years before Wind of Change. And this is just one example. Wind of Change was perhaps a nice and peaceful post scriptum or fait accompli to the changes which had happened in the Soviet Union in late 1980s. So while it could be true that the CIA commissioned someone to write Wind of Change and persuaded the leader of Scorpions (I didn’t even know his name was Klaus and you are trying to convince us it was an iconic song in Russia in early 90s...) to perform it, it certainly is ridiculous to suggest that this song had changed hearts and minds of Soviets who had been listening to much bolder songs (in Russian!) for years before...