Joe Walsh and David Crosby to Headline the May 4 50th Commemoration Benefit Concert at Kent State

UPDATE: Please note that this event and all May 4 50th Commemoration Weekend events originally scheduled for May 1-4, 2020, have been canceled. See for more information.

Kent State University is proud to announce the May 4 50th Commemoration Benefit Concert featuring Joe Walsh (with Barnstorm – Joe Vitale and Kenny Passarelli) and David Crosby (with his touring band), two Rock & Roll Hall of Fame members with strong musical connections to the events of May 4, 1970. They will be joined by other acts to be announced soon. The benefit concert will take place 7 p.m. Saturday, May 2, in the Memorial Athletic and Convocation (MAC) Center on campus.

Proceeds from this event will help support the newly created May 4 Legacy Scholarships, which will provide four endowed scholarships to be given to students majoring in Kent State’s renowned Peace and Conflict Studies program. Each scholarship will bear the name of one of the students killed – Allison Krause, Jeffrey Miller, Sandra Scheuer and William Schroeder – to serve as a lasting testament to their lives and presence at Kent State.

The endowment of the four scholarships has long been a goal for many of the family members of those killed and wounded by members of the Ohio National Guard during an anti-war protest at Kent State on May 4, 1970. As music was such an important part in the lives of those killed and wounded, the special May 4 50th Commemoration Benefit Concert is a fitting and meaningful way to help raise funds for these newly created scholarships.

“We are extremely honored and grateful to have these two world-class musicians as part of our 50th commemoration activities,” said Kent State President Todd Diacon. “The willingness of these artists to help us raise funds for the scholarships demonstrates the commitment and strong ties that these individuals have to honoring those killed and wounded on May 4, 1970, and ensuring a lasting legacy of learning and peaceful reconciliation.”

JOE WALSH AND BARNSTORMJoe Walsh will perform with his band Barnstorm on May 2 at Kent State University for the May 4 50th Commemoration Benefit Concert. (Photo credit: Myriam Santos)

In the late summer of 1965, Joe Walsh arrived at Kent State and almost immediately started integrating himself into the local music scene with his first band, The Measles. By the spring of 1968, Walsh joined and then fronted The James Gang, a hard rock power trio playing two to three nights a week at a downtown Kent club called JB’s. In addition to being extremely popular on the local Kent and Northeast Ohio music scene, The James Gang began playing shows nationally, opening for the likes of Fleetwood Mac, The Who and Led Zeppelin.

Walsh was on the campus of Kent State on May 4, 1970, and the events of that tragic day left a lasting impact on him. Following his time in Kent, Ohio, Walsh left The James Gang and formed Barnstorm. He also went on to a successful solo music career and eventually became a member of the iconic rock group The Eagles just in time to record their now 26 times certified platinum album, “Hotel California.”

Walsh has written such classic rock songs as “Rocky Mountain Way,” “Funk #49,” “Life in the Fast Lane,” “Life’s Been Good” and “In the City.” A multi-Grammy Award recipient, a member of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame and a Kennedy Center Honors recipient, Walsh continues to tour both as a solo artist and as a member of The Eagles, and continues to support Kent State and Northeast Ohio. Kent State is proud to feature Walsh at the 50th Commemoration Benefit Concert.

One of the highlights of this special benefit concert will be a reunion of Walsh’s band Barnstorm with original members Joe Vitale and Kenny Passarelli, along with several other renowned musicians joining the original three members.

“We wanted to make sure the artists we brought in for the concert had a strong understanding of the history of May 4, 1970, and a commitment to helping raise funds for the scholarships,” said Rod Flauhaus, project manager for the May 4 50th Commemoration. “Artists like Joe Walsh and David Crosby provided the soundtrack for both those that went to fight in the Vietnam War and for those who were against it. Their music was the common thread that helped to raise national awareness, inspire activism and helped us to heal as a nation.”

Opening for Walsh will be another musical icon, Crosby.

DAVID CROSBYDavid Crosby will perform with his touring band on May 2 at Kent State University for the May 4 50th Commemoration Benefit Concert. (Photo provided by David Crosby)

David Crosby’s unparalleled six-decade career has left an indelible mark upon many generations of listeners. A two-time inductee to the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, Crosby began his professional musical career as a founding member of The Byrds in the mid-’60s, performing on such classics as “Eight Miles High” and “Mr. Tambourine Man.”

Crosby then formed Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young (CSN&Y) in the late ’60s, performing their second show at the famous Woodstock concert in 1969. Their 1969 self-titled debut album and 1970 release “Déjà Vu” are considered two of the greatest albums in the history of rock ’n’ roll. The group’s top 20 single “Ohio” was released in the summer of 1970 and helped to raised international awareness of the tragic events at Kent State on May 4, 1970.

The group Crosby, Stills and Nash performed an acoustic version of the song on the Commons at Kent State during the May 4 annual commemoration on May 4, 1997. Nearly 50 years after it was first released, the song “Ohio” continues to resonate strongly with audiences and other musicians and remains a highlight of Crosby’s performances.

Crosby was also inducted into the prestigious Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2009 and continues to devote his time and songwriting to issues of social conscience. He has visited Kent State’s May 4 Visitors Center and performed in Kent many times over the years. His towering influence and brilliant ability to capture the spirit of our times in his music remains undiminished.


Tickets for the May 4 50th Commemoration Benefit Concert will go on sale to the general public at 10 a.m. Friday, March 6. Ticket information and additional concert information can be found online at, by calling 330-672-50TH (5084) or by emailing

Those wishing to make a donation to the May 4 Legacy Scholarships can do so by visiting the May 4 50th Commemoration website at and clicking on the “Give” icon on the homepage.


Details of the May 4 50th Commemoration Benefit Concert along with the full 50th Commemoration weekend schedule of events can be found on the 50th Commemoration website and Facebook page. A web app is also available on iTunes and the Google Play app store by searching “Kent State May 4th.”

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Photo Captions

Photo of Joe Walsh:
Joe Walsh will perform with his band Barnstorm on May 2 at Kent State University for the May 4 50th Commemoration Benefit Concert. (Photo credit: Myriam Santos)

Photo of David Crosby:
David Crosby will perform with his touring band on May 2 at Kent State University for the May 4 50th Commemoration Benefit Concert. (Photo provided by David Crosby)

Media Contacts

For Kent State leaders and university staff interview requests and media credentials, please contact:
Eric Mansfield,, 330-672-2797

For concert, artist interviews and general 50th Commemoration information, please contact:
Rod Flauhaus,, 330-672-2423

POSTED: Wednesday, February 19, 2020 08:52 AM
Updated: Friday, December 9, 2022 10:39 AM
Rod Flauhaus