‘Four dead in Ohio’…How the Kent State Shooting Changed Music History

(via Pittsburgh Post-Gazette) by Scott Mervis

Seeing the devastating pictures in Life magazine in May 1970, Neil Young — from 2,500 miles away — wrote the definitive song about the massacre at Kent State.

“Ohio,” recorded with Crosby, Stills & Nash three weeks after the May 4 shootings and released as a single that month, shocked the airwaves with its refrain of “Four dead in O-hi-o” and became a generation’s rallying cry for resistance to the Nixon administration and the Vietnam War.

One of the people dead on the ground, captured so strikingly in a Pulitzer Prize-winning photo, was Jeffrey Miller, a 20-year-old who had just transferred there from Michigan State University.

“I knew Jeff had been a fan of [Neil Young],” Chrissie Hynde writes in her memoir “Reckless: My Life as a Pretender,” “so I was happy that Young had become our spokesman, our voice. It was a big element in easing us out of shock.”

Hynde, now a member of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, was among the Kent State students at the rally that day, and she had company — an assortment of bright young musicians who would become future icons and headliners.

Not mentioned in his classic song “Life’s Been Good” is that Joe Walsh, later of the James Gang and The Eagles, was witness to the events.

Chris Butler, who would go on to form The Waitresses and write the hit “I Know What Boys Like,” was with Miller, who was a close friend.

Gerald Casale, who stared down the National Guard, went on to form one of the most influential art-punk bands of the ’70s. “Devo wouldn’t have happened if it hadn’t been for Kent State,” Casale said in a recent phone interview. “That’s the long and short of it.”

Read more: https://newsinteractive.post-gazette.com/how-kent-state-shooting-changed-music-history/

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