- The Washington Times - Monday, November 10, 2003

CLEVELAND (AP) — Rock music played the lead in giving Hungarian baby boomers the resolve to bring down their communist state, says Hungary’s ambassador to the United States, who was one of those reformers.

“By keeping in touch with the music scene in the West, it kind of kept me sane and with the feeling I was part of the free world,” said Andras Simonyi at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

Mr. Simonyi, 51, was a devoted fan of the Beatles, Cream, Traffic and Jimi Hendrix when their releases weren’t permitted in Hungary. Records and tapes sometimes were smuggled in or recorded from foreign radio broadcasts.

Hungary became a democracy in 1990 — after more than 40 years of communism. The nation of 10 million joined NATO in 1999 and formally will join the European Union on May 1.

“There is a commonality to the music and freedom,” said Jeff Baxter, defense and antiterrorism consultant who once played guitar with the Doobie Brothers and Steely Dan. “To Andras, Western music was an open window of fresh air in a very repressive society.”

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