The Star Studded Feature Length Documentary – Which Tells The Powerful Story of How Western Rock Music Helped End The Cold War – Is Narrated by Kiefer Sutherland And Includes Interviews with President Jimmy Carter, Mikhail Gorbachev, Billy Joel and The Beach Boys

FREE TO ROCK: How Rock & Roll Helped End The Cold War, a star and dignitary studded feature length documentary chronicling how western rock music contributed to the end of one of the most foreboding eras in recent world history, will have an exclusive screening at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum’s Foster Theatre in Cleveland, Ohio on Wednesday, June 29th at 7 p.m. Part of the Rock Hall’s 2016 film series, the event is presented in support of the museum’s new exhibition Louder Than Words: Rock, Power & Politics.

Immediately following the screening of the film, Rock and Roll Hall of Fame President Greg Harris will moderate a panel discussion of the film and the power of rock music to affect social change in dictatorial societies, with producers of the film, performing artists and some of the film’s interview subjects. These luminaries include the film’s director/producer and four time Emmy Award winning filmmaker Jim Brown, Producers Nicholas Binkley and Douglas Yeager, Producer and Soviet rock pioneer Stas Namin, Soviet rock pioneer Valery Saifudinov, and Advisor/Interview Subject/Rock Guitarist and former Hungarian Ambassador to the USA Andras Simonyi.

FREE TO ROCK was produced in collaboration with the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, the Grammy Museum of Los Angeles, the independent label PSB Records and the Stas Namin Center of Moscow, in public-private partnership with the U.S. Government’s National Endowment of the Humanities (NEH), National Endowment for the Arts. (NEA).

Narrated by Kiefer Sutherland, it features interviews with former Presidents Jimmy Carter and Mikhail Gorbachev, KGB General Oleg Kalugin, Billy Joel, the Beach Boys, the Scorpions and Nitty Gritty Dirt Band. Other rock legends appearing in the film are Elvis Presley, the Beatles, Elton John, Bruce Springsteen, Roger Water’s WALL Concert in Berlin, Metallica, and the Iron Curtain rock legends they inspired. Free To Rock is guided by a “blue ribbon panel” of scholars, experts, diplomats and humanities advisors from across the U.S., Eastern Europe and the former republics of the Soviet Union.

The film is also the story of “soft power” and the power of art and music to affect social change – in this case, the collapse of the Soviet Union. As expressed by Vladimir Putin when he met Paul McCartney in 2002, rock music from the West was considered “propaganda from an alien ideology.” Prohibited by the Soviet and Eastern Bloc authorities as propaganda, the “soft power” of western rock music infected the youth behind the Iron Curtain and spread like a virus across Soviet Bloc.  

This forbidden music was distributed and sold as “bone records” (etched on x-ray paper for 20 or fewer plays) and cassettes by Black market entrepreneurs and fledgling pop-culture capitalists. In the eyes of the Soviet Ministry of Culture, western rock music combined the threatening evils of: infecting its youth with an alien, anti-socialist and rebellious virus; with the spreading of the English language, which undermined a Russification initiative in the 15 Republics of the USSR extending from Kazakhstan to the Baltics; while also encouraging illicit free enterprise with the underground sale of the products.

Special FREE TO ROCK screenings with panel discussions have previously been presented with enthusiastic responses at the U.S. State Department, the U.S. Capitol, the Council on Foreign Relations, the World Affairs Council, Georgetown University, Stanford University, and in Riga, Latvia sponsored by the Ministry of Culture of the Latvian government.


“Fantastic Movie and Terrific Event!  Congrats!”

Ambassador Michael McFaul – Stanford University’s Director of the Freeman Spolgli

Institute for International Relations; former U.S. Ambassador to Russia.


“The rock n’ roll soundtrack to the break-up of the Soviet Union and the fall of the Berlin Wall shows American soft power at its strongest. The   music embodied freedom, and the youth behind the Iron Curtain longed to hear it, and then to have it.” 

Ambassador Cynthia Schneider – Distinguished Professor in the Practice of Diplomacy in the

School of Foreign Service, Georgetown University; former U.S. Ambassador to Netherlands.


The screening is FREE for Museum members, $5.50 for non-members.

(Free with paid Museum admission if space permits)

For more information and to view the film trailer, please visit: For ticketing information:


FREE TO ROCK producer contact:  Doug Yeager (212) 245-0240

FREE TO ROCK press contact: Sara Donnelly (707) 934-7381


The following are quotes directly from the film, quotes that didn’t make the final cut and others from people who have seen the film:



Quotes directly from the film

 “The Cold War almost turned into World War III”

(President Mikhail Gorbachev)


“East German news organizations labeled Elvis Presley Public Enemy # 1”

(Kiefer Sutherland’s narration)


“They told me that if I don’t stop playing rock and roll music, my daughter’s health is in deep trouble.”

(Pete Anderson – Soviet rock pioneer)


“The Plastic People of the Universe were one of the most political bands of all time. They didn’t risk just poor record sales….they risked their lives!”

(Bob Santelli – Executive Director, Grammy Museum).


“I didn’t know that (Rock & Roll) was going to end the Cold War…. but I thought it might warm things up.”

(Billy Joel)


“One of the best ways to topple an opposite system is through ideological offensive…through cultural offensive. This is precisely what happened during the Cold War…..That’s what led to the collapse of the system.”

(KGB Major General Oleg Kalugin)


“Rock & Roll is freedom, and every young person wants to be free!”

(Andrey Makarevich – Soviet rock star)


“Rock & Roll was certainly a contributing factor to ending the Cold War.”

(President Jimmy Carter)

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Media Contact
Company Name: FREE TO ROCK
Contact Person: Doug Yeager
Phone: (212) 245-0240
City: Cleveland
State: Ohio
Country: United States