SCORPIONS released their single “Wind of Change” on January 21, 1991. The song was recorded for their eleventh studio album Crazy World (1990). The song was composed and written by Klaus Meine and produced by Keith Olsen and the band. It was released as the album’s third single and became a worldwide hit, just after the failed coup that would eventually lead to the collapse of the Soviet Union.

The song topped the charts in Germany and across Europe and reached number four in the United States on August 31, 1991 and number two in the United Kingdom. It later appeared on the band’s 1995 live album, their 2000 album Live Bites with the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra, Moment of Glory, and on their 2001 unplugged album Acoustica. With estimated sales of 14 million copies sold worldwide, “Wind of Change” is one of the best-selling singles of all time. It holds the record for the best-selling single by a German artist.

The band presented a gold recording of the single to Mikhail Gorbachev in 1991. As of December 2018, the video for “Wind of Change” has been viewed more than 650 million times on YouTube. Scorpions was the first German band to receive more than 100 million views.

The lyrics celebrate glasnost in the Soviet Union, the end of the Cold War, and speak of hope during the tense conditions that arose from the fall of Communist-run governments among Eastern Bloc countries starting in 1989.

The Scorpions were inspired to write this song during a visit to Moscow in 1989, and the opening lines refer to the city’s landmarks: I follow the Moskva. Down to Gorky Park. Listening to the wind of change.

Moskva is the name of the river that flows through Moscow (both the city and the river are named identically in Russian), and Gorky Park is a city park in Moscow named after writer Maxim Gorky.

The song also contains references to the balalaika, which is a Russian string instrument similar to a guitar. The balalaika is mentioned in the following lines: Let your balalaika sing. What my guitar wants to say

“Wind of Change” opens with a clean guitar intro played by Matthias Jabs, which is played alongside Klaus Meine’s flat whistling. The song’s guitar solo is played by Rudolf Schenker.

The band also recorded a Russian version of the song, entitled “Ветер перемен” (“Veter Peremen”) and a Spanish version entitled “Vientos de Cambio”.  In 2005, viewers of the German television network ZDF voted it the song of the century. [sources/photo special]