Rockin' the Kremlin: My Incredible True Story of Gangsters, Oligarchs, and Pop Stars in Putin's Russia

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Product Details
Rowman & Littlefield Publishers
Publish Date
6.19 X 9.26 X 0.91 inches | 1.15 pounds

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About the Author

David Junk was the first CEO of Universal Music in Moscow, and for a decade he promoted international artists in Russia, including stars like Mariah Carey, Elton John, U2, Sting, and Bon Jovi. He also signed many Russian artists to Universal, including t.A.T.u and Alsou. He was vice-president Eastern Europe at Universal Music in 2003, opened the first Universal Music office in Kyiv, Ukraine, and developed music reality shows for Ukrainian TV. He is a founding member of the Russian Music Industry Association and the US Ambassadors Task Force on Intellectual Property Rights.

Fred Bronson is the bestselling author of six books including The Jacksons: Legacy, The Sound of Music Family Scrapbook, Dick Clark's American Bandstand, and three Billboard charts books. For over three decades, he has been reporting on the music industry for Billboard magazine, covering many topics including American Idol, the Eurovision Song Contest, ABBA, and Motown. His articles have also appeared in The Hollywood Reporter, Variety, and the Los Angeles Times. He is a four-time guest on American Idol and a writer of three Star Trek episodes.


"Russia during the collapse of the Soviet Union and the 'wild 90s' that followed was anarchic, violent, corrupt, and exciting, as this gonzo page-turner of an account makes clear--just as it illustrates the return of order first and then authoritarianism. Gangsters, rockers, entrepreneurs, idealists, Putin, Sting, and a mortar full of vodka--they're all here."

--Mark Galeotti, historian and author, A Short History of Russia and We Need to Talk about Putin

"A compulsive, shocking story. David Junk thought he was being made head of Universal Music in Russia, but in fact, he was being appointed the American music industry's commander-in-chief against the Russian underworld, their corrupt military, and Putin's appalling security forces. Yet, he still managed to give Russia its first ever international supergroup. David Junk is a man in a million."

--Simon Napier-Bell, author, film maker, and music manager, Wham!, The Yardbirds, Sinead O'Connor

"A funny, fascinating, and frightening angle on Russia's trajectory from decadence to dictatorship."

--Peter Pomerantsev, journalist and author, This Is Not Propaganda; senior fellow, SNF Agora Institute at Johns Hopkins University

"Holy perestroika! David Junk brings alive music and business in Russia with intrigue, insight, and humor. He barely pauses for breath, and the result is both compelling and satisfying."

--Adam White, former editor-in-chief, Billboard; author, Motown: The Sound of Young America

"David Junk chronicles his experiences in the exciting--if dangerous--Russia directly after the fall of the Berlin Wall. We were fueled by hope and belief that we were paving the way to a better society, and I am extremely grateful that David has put pen to paper. David invites readers into this world in this captivatingly told story."

--Neil Turkewitz, artist rights advocate and former executive vice president, International, Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA)

"This book is fun, full of action, and perfectly captures the madness of the times as well as the ugly side of Russian show business, populated with scary thugs, dodgy characters, and impatient billionaires. Highly recommend. It reads like a thriller, but it all really happened."

--Emmanuel Legrand, former global editor, Billboard; editor, Creative Industries Newsletter

Music industry veteran Junk debuts with an energetic chronicle of his crusade to bring popular Western music to post-Soviet Russia. Inspired by the end of the Cold War, the author moved to Moscow in the early 1990s aiming to topple 'the old Soviet music industry' in favor of one befitting the 'new Russia.' At Polygram Records and then Universal Music Russia (where he eventually became CEO), Junk dealt with 'gangster capitalism'; rampant music piracy; powerful oligarchs; and the Russian Orthodox Church's antagonism toward pro-LGBTQ musical acts, most notably the Russian girl group t.A.T.u. Along the way, he scoured the radio, music competitions, and MTV Russia to discover top-selling talent including Alsou and Smash!! (Russia's boy band answer to Wham!).... It's an exciting and colorful look at a dynamic period in Russia's cultural history.

-- "Publishers Weekly"

"I led an American pop music invasion... to Russia. It was too loud and brash, like rock 'n' roll--these words from David Junk impressed and inspired me. He tries to find meaning behind the cause to which he devoted over three decades of his life--bringing America and Russia closer together after the collapse of the Soviet Union. Visiting my homeland, Ukraine, David questions if dedicating these thirty years was in vain. His story is captivating."

--Ruslana, renowned Ukrainian singer and activist; winner of the Eurovision Song Contest and World Music Awards

"A revealing and engaging account by an American farm boy who became the most powerful music executive in Russia and led a cultural revolution, with behind-the-scenes stories of how he brought Western pop culture to the country and orchestrated hits by legendary artists like Mariah Carey, Eminem, Shania Twain, and U2."

--Zach Horowitz, former president & chief operating officer, Universal Music Group