“Ohio’- Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young. 50 years ago today -Monday May 4, 1970-I can tell you where I was at what I was doing. I was nine years old and my grandparents had taken me on my first trip to the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York. We were at the Hall of Fame that day and afterwards when we got to the car and had the radio on the reports were coming in on what was happening at Kent State University in Kent, Ohio- about an hour and a half from where I lived.
Twenty-eight Ohio State National Guardsmen 67 rounds over a period of 13 seconds into a mass of unarmed college students who were protesting against the bombing of Cambodia by the United States military. Four students were killed and none others were wounded. Not all the students who were shot were involved in the protest- some were just walking by-going to class and happened to be observers. Of the four killed the closest one to the guardsmen was 265 feet away from them- the rest were well over 300 feet away- a football field. The four killed were Jeffrey Miller 20, Allison Krause 19, William Schroeder 19 and Sandra Scheuer 20.
Neil Young wrote the song “Ohio” after seeing photographs of the massacre in Life Magazine. On May 21, 1970 less than three weeks after Kent State- Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young went into the studio and recorded the song. “Ohio” was recorded live in just a few takes. Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young had a single on the charts at the time “Teach Your Children” but the record company rush released “Ohio” was a single- backed by Stephen Stills song to the war’s dead “The Cost Of Freedom.” Neil Young would later say in liner notes to his Decade compilation that the Kent State incident was ‘the biggest lesson ever learned at an American place of learning” and that “David Crosby cried when we finished the take.” Crosby is the one you hear during the fade out of the song saying “Four, why did they die?” and “How many more?” The single would peak at #14 on the Billboard Hot 100.