Music History

Twenty fabled moments in Denver music: #12: Denver's "Red Elvis" comes home, 1985

Over the course of the next few weeks, Backbeat will be counting down the twenty most fabled moments in Denver music history. Today, a look back at when Dean Reed (aka "Red Elvis") came back to Denver and didn't receive the warmest of welcomes.

Dean Reed was more than a Denver-born, Wheat Ridge-bred pop star. He was the self-proclaimed Red Elvis, a communist to the core whose ideals and good looks brought him more fans in the Eastern bloc than it did enemies back in the States. When he returned to Denver in 1985 after a 23-year exile, Reed appeared on a local radio show, finding a hostile audience at home and getting booted off the air. Reed was dead just a year later, thus cementing his rock-star odyssey as one of the strangest in Colorado (if not American) history.