Classic rockers share stories

Gary Duncan speaks Wednesday at the Rainbow Warriors concert. Duncan was a guitarist with The Brogues and later played with Quicksilver Messenger Service. Photo by Thomas Song.

Anthony Dominic

Rock photographer and historian Don Aters believes there’s more to stories of the 1960s than just “sex, drugs and rock and roll.”

Aters and the Rainbow Warriors, a collective of classic rockers, spoke of such stories during a three-hour lecture and concert event in the Kent State Student Center Ballroom Thursday night.

“These are human beings that were part of a generation that shaped our culture,” said Aters, coordinator and host of the event, “They were the ones that were there and they have real stories to tell.”

Rainbow Warriors is comprised of Tom Constanten of the Grateful Dead, Slick Aguilar of Jefferson Starship and KC and the Sunshine Band, Gary Duncan of Quicksilver Messenger Service and Jerry Miller of Moby Grape.

The group members spent the first hour and a half speaking of their personal histories and took questions from audience members. Aters also joined the group on stage to share his experiences with photographing musicians such as John Lennon, Janis Joplin and Jimi Hendrix.

For the musical portion of the event, the groups played selections from their respective bands, as well as various blues songs, and were joined by local backing musicians Joe Vitale Jr. and “Dreadlock” Dave McDougald.


The group had a meet and greet following the performance where Aters displayed some of his photos. Performers also signed memorabilia and mingled with the audience. Around 100 students and community members attended the event.

Aters said he and his late best friend, Chet Helms, conceived the idea of Rainbow Warriors years ago. Helms was a music promoter from San Francisco who was called the father of the city’s “Summer of Love” in 1967 and is credited with jumpstarting the careers of musicians such as Janis Joplin, Aters said.

“I don’t see any of these guys as famous musicians; I see them as my friends,” Aters said. “My goal is to make sure they are not forgotten.”

Katie Young, Undergraduate Student Government promotions officer, said the event is different for Kent State because it’s not just another concert.

“Usually at a concert, you just hear the music and then you’re done,” Young said. “But with these guys, you get to see them perform and then you also get to hear about their pasts and how they’ve evolved as people.”

Contact Anthony Dominic at [email protected].