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Rockin’ The Kremlin Goes Behind A Musical Iron Curtain

The former CEO of Universal Music Russia chronicles his career in a new book.


Rockin’ The Kremlin: My Incredible True Story of Gangsters, Oligarchs, and Pop Stars in Putin’s Russia, the new book by David Junk with Fred Bronson that details the former’s exciting and dangerous time in Moscow, would not be coming out on July 2 if it were not for the Eurovision Song Contest.

The two authors met at the 2000 competition, held in Stockholm. The American-born Junk accompanied the first Russian artist signed to Universal Music Russia, the teenage singer Alsou. Bronson was covering the pan-European song contest for Billboard. They quickly became friends and stayed in touch long after Eurovision.

Some 22 years later, Junk told Bronson he wanted to write a book about his time in Russia, dealing with oligarchs, record piracy, stolen diamonds and murder, as well as signing a number of Russian artists to the label and welcoming visiting Universal acts to Russia like Mariah Carey, Elton John, Sting and Bon Jovi. There are multiple chapters in the book about Alsou and t.A.T.U., about how Junk discovered them and signed them, and their adventures at Eurovision and beyond, up to their ultimate implosions.

David Junk in Moscow in 1993.

The book also includes a wild, unbelievable chapter about Russian superstar Alla Pugacheva and her then-husband Philipp Kirkorov. Junk also signed the boy-band duo Smash!!, and writes extensively about founding member Sergey Lazarev, who went on to have his own solo career.

From his humble beginnings growing up on a farm in Ohio to his recent return to Ukraine to observe the war firsthand, Junk’s story is a compelling narrative, with danger lurking around every corner. He describes his good times working in Russia, and the not-so-good times in this fast-paced read, which Publishers Weekly calls, “an exciting and colorful look at a dynamic period in Russia’s cultural history.”

The book has earned praise from Ruslana, who coincidentally won Eurovision for Ukraine in 2004. “I led an American pop music invasion… to Russia,” she writes. “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 30 years was in vain. His story is captivating.”

Get more information at the book’s website.