The Musical Legacy of a Tragedy - How the Kent State Shootings Inspired DEVO

In many ways, we’re still hearing the echoes from the gunfire at Kent State University 45 years ago today. The deaths of those four students after the National Guard opened fire have had a lasting legal, political, and cultural legacy. One of the most prominent of those legacies has been musical. Famously, Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young wrote and recorded “Ohio” immediately after the event, but that day influenced a variety of other musicians in ways both large and small.

One of the bands that emerged from that day was DEVO. Gerald Casale, one of the founding members, was actually in the crowd that day and witnessed the shootings. His friend and collaborator Mark Mothersbaugh was also a student at Kent State. In interviews, both men have pointed to that day as sparking their desire to form the band, and it’s cynical (though often comedic) opinion that humans are in a state of “de-evolution” — which they shortened to “DEVO” for the band’s name.

Have a listen to their interviews below:

Devo

Mark Mothersbaugh on Devo

Mark Mothersbaugh is co-founder of the new-wave band Devo. They think humanity is de-evolving.

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Gerald Casale on Devo

Gerald Casale on Devo

Devo co-founder Gerald Casale talks about the return of Devo.

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