MOSCOW -- It was an unlikely meeting, one that until recently would have seemed incredible. The leather-suited heavy metal rock band Scorpions entered the inner sanctum of the Kremlin for a private meeting with Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev.
'We know that Mr. Gorbachev is facing very difficult times right now,' Scorpions lead singer Klaus Meine told a news conference Sunday, disclosing that members of the five-piece German band chatted with Gorbachev and his wife Raisa, mostly about music.
The world-renowned German band boasted of being the first Western rock stars to meet the Soviet leader.
For his part, Gorbachev received two checks totaling $70,000 at the Saturday night meeting -- royalties from the Scorpions' song 'Wind of change,' which was inspired by perestroika and written after the band performed in Moscow for the 1989 Music Peace Festival.
The money will be spent for medical equipment at children's hospitals in several cities, according to Soviet news agencies.
Half the money was donated by the band, the other half by their record company, Mercury-Polygram, said the company's European president, Wolf Gramatke, who accompanied the band on their hour-long Kremlin visit.
Most of the talk was about music, Meine said, voicing surprise that Gorbachev -- and especially Raisa Gorbachev -- seemed to know about them and their music. The Gorbachevs said they asked their children about the band, Meine said.
The conversation briefly turned to politics when Meine told Gorbachev about his childhood memories of former Soviet leader Nikita Krushchev pounding his shoe on the table at the United Nations in one of history's great footnotes and certainly one of Krushchev's most memorable acts.
Gorbachev's reaction seemed to fit into the musical mood of the conversation. Meine quoted Gorbachev saying of Krushchev's actions, ''Oh, that was heavy rock. Did you like that?''
The musicians, who said their first attempt at performing in Moscow in 1988 was turned down by the authorities, said they planned a Moscow concert this summer and invited the Gorbachevs.
A Kremlin leader meeting a hard rock group, no matter how famous, and talking about music would have sounded incredible not long ago. Other Western celebrities, such as Madonna and Bob Geldof, have reportedly sought meetings with Gorbachev before, but he was too busy.
Now the Scorpions are received in Kremlin. 'It's not because we are group No. 1,' Meine said. 'It's much more because of the song that hit the spirit of the time perfectly. 'Wind of change' blew us into Kremlin. '