Alex Karpovsky is writing and executive producing the project, along with Jason Winer. 20th Television is the studio and is producing in association with Winer‘s Small Dog Pictures, Crooked Media, Pineapple Street Studios and Spotify.
The “Wind Of Change” eight-part podcast series premiered on Spotify in May. It was produced by Crooked Media and Pineapple Street Studios, and hosted by New Yorker journalist Patrick Radden Keefe, who said he launched the investigation into whether “Wind Of Change” was actually penned by the CIA after hearing a second-hand story from a friend who used to work for the CIA — that “Wind Of Change” was actually written by the CIA to encourage change throughout the Soviet Union.
SCORPIONS singer Klaus Meine and his bandmates have always maintained that they wrote “Wind Of Change” after performing at 1989’s Moscow Music Peace Festival in Moscow, where they shared the stage with other hard rock acts like BON JOVI and MÖTLEY CRÜE.
Seven months ago, Meine was asked during an appearance on SiriusXM‘s “Trunk Nation With Eddie Trunk” how the CIA rumor came about. The vocalist responded: “Earlier this year, I did an interview. I think his name was Patrick Keefe. He came all the way from New York City over here to Germany for an interview with me. And Matthias [Jabs, guitar] did a phoner later, I guess. And it was about the Moscow Music Peace Festival, about ‘Wind Of Change’, but this is what this interview was all about. He used to write for printouts like New Yorker and stuff — he’s a great guy, and very sympathetic and a really nice guy. And in the middle of the interview, he goes, like, ‘Klaus, you ever heard the story that ‘Wind Of Change’ was written by the CIA?’ And I cracked up laughing — I totally cracked up laughing. I said to him, ‘So, my friend, you think you make an interview with a songwriter or you think you make an interview with a spy?’ [Laughs] It was pretty bizarre. And then I learned the story. This was all about the podcast that would come out in May.
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“Those guys, they’re very professional and very creative, and the way they put it [together], it feels like a Netflix series, right?” he continued. “That’s what it is. It’s a podcast, and there will be a lot of people who will get into this. It’s a fascinating idea, and it’s an entertaining idea, but it’s not true at all.”
Meine went on to say that he initially thought Keefe was joking. “But when he told me about the CIA, I realized that he was very serious about it, and he [spent] some serious time to get to this point and, at the end of the day, to even make an interview with the songwriter of ‘Wind Of Change’,” Klaus said. “I thought it was very amusing, and I just cracked up laughing. It’s a very entertaining and really crazy story, but, like I said, it’s not true at all. Like you American guys would say, it’s fake news.”
Keefe told Deadline about his decision to explore the topic: “It’s a story that stretches across musical genres, and across borders and periods of history. So, it was important to me that you hear the music, and the accents and the voices, and judge for yourself who might be lying and who is telling the truth. I’ve had so much fun pursuing this crazy story over the course of a year, exploring the dark byways of Cold War history and doing nearly a hundred interviews in four countries with rockers and spies.”
Tommy Vietor, the co-founder of Crooked Media, added: “We know that the CIA covertly sponsored cultural events during the ’50s and ’60s. They paid to film George Orwell‘s ‘1984’ and ‘Animal Farm’. They sponsored a European tour for the Boston Symphony Orchestra. Why not help a German rock band write a power ballad to shred the iron curtain? And while the CIA closely guards its secrets, Patrick is one of the best investigative journalists and writers of his generation, and no one is better positioned to find out the truth.”
Back in 2015, SCORPIONS said “Wind Of Change” was inspired by the sight of thousands of Russians cheering them on in 1988 — when they became the first hard rock band to play in Russia — and in 1989, at the aforementioned Moscow Music Peace Festival, even though they were a German band.
“We wanted to show the people in Russia that here is a new generation of Germans growing up,” guitarist Rudolf Schenker said. “They’re not coming with tanks and guns and making war — they’re coming with guitars and rock ‘n’ roll and bringing love!”
“There were so many emotional moments in Moscow,” Meine added. “I guess it could have been BON JOVI or MÖTLEY CRÜE, any of these guys who had gone home inspired by what they saw, but for them it was like, ‘Hey! We rocked the Soviet Union, dudes!’ For us, maybe it was different. We saw so many changes from Leningrad in ’88 to Moscow in ’89. That was the inspiration for ‘Wind Of Change’.”