Dean Reed – Early On in Wheat Ridge, Colorado
Colorado’s Dean Reed would find his way to a recording contract with Capitol Records in the late 1950’s and released a handful of 45’s. His only chart success came with a song called “The Search” in 1959, reaching a meager number 94 with a short 3-week run. From there he found his way to Latin America where he gained a good deal of fame and a big following. He would eventually be dubbed “The Red Elvis” due to his liberal-socialist leanings. Later, he would migrate to Eastern Europe and take residence in East Germany. He was oft-recorded and enjoyed a good deal of success in the Eastern Bloc, including in the Soviet Union.
But he dreamed of returning to the U.S. and becoming a legitimate recording star. His trip back was one big disappointment. His day had passed him by. He returned to Europe, led an isolated life and came to a sad ending. His body was found floating in an East German lake.
Today while browsing through a local antique mall in Arvada, I came across a copy of a local high school’s newspaper, “The Husker” published by the Wheat Ridge Farmer’s, a school situated about 1 mile and a half from my current home in Wheat Ridge. When I saw the date of the edition, , April, 1955, I thought, well what the heck, Wheat Ridge High was the school that several local musicians attended, including Gary Stites and Dean Reed.
Lo and behold on the front page is a rather stark black and white image of a student minstrel strumming his guitar. Sure enough, it is the Dean Reed: (from the paper) “The talent from the class of 1956 was enjoyed by all. First on the program was Dean “Slim” Reed, singing “Company’s Comin'” a song that charted for Porter Wagner 1954 – his very first company hit topping off at number 7, and “What Are You Goin’ To Do Now?”.
I combed the issue for any other mentions of the young Reed (he was a junior) and found that he also served on the Junior-Senior Prom committee. A group called “The Blue Notes” provided music at the dance that year.
So, a very early appearance for a young man who’s journey would end surrounded by mystery and a sad ending.