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Ohio Kent State shootings - May 4, 1970

A Sneak Peek...

And this time, about a shooting incident that took place on May 4, 1970, and inspired the writing of one of Neil Young's great protest songs as part of the band "Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young".

On May 4, 1970, a shooting incident occurred at the University of Kent in Ohio that killed four students and injured nine others.

The unarmed students were shot by Ohio National Guard during a Vietnam War-related anti-war demonstration, or more precisely, following President Nixon's announcement from April 30, 1970, of the expansion of the Vietnam campaign to its neutral neighbor Cambodia.

(Photo: John Filo)

The demonstration organized following Nixon's announcement numbered about 3,500 students, during which 28 National Guard soldiers fired 67 bullets in 13 seconds, killing 4 students and injuring 9 others.

Neil Young who watched the reports of the incident was so shocked by the shooting, and he immediately wrote the song "Ohio" which explicitly relates to the tragic events of that day. In a very unusual move especially in those days, the lyrics explicitly refer to President Nixon and make use of his name, including the phrase: "Tin soldiers and Nixon coming."


The quartet entered the studio a few days after the event and recorded the song live, after a few takes.

The song was released as a single less than a month after the incident, but was banned from broadcasting on some radio stations, which saw it as a defiance against the regime of Richard Nixon.

The song, which was not included in any of the quartet's studio albums, is considered by Neil Young to be the best song he has written as part of "Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young".

It is interesting to note that the events of that day greatly influenced other students who attended the demonstration and later became musicians themselves, including Chrissie Hynde who later formed The Pretenders as well as Mark Mothersbaugh and Jerry Casale who formed the band "Devo" and noted that they were inspired by the anti-war song Written by Young following the incident. "Devo" members recorded a cover version of the song, which was included on the compilation album "When Pigs Fly, Songs You Never Thought You'd Hear" from 2002.

For Listening: Click Spotify.

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