Mini-documentary shows lead singer of ‘The Who’ speaking publicly about 1979 tragedy for the first time

Friends, family of Finneytown students who died honor them through scholarships
Published: Mar. 5, 2019 at 10:49 AM EST
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FINNEYTOWN, OH (FOX19) - For the first time, the lead singer of “The Who” spoke publicly about the deadly 1979 Cincinnati concert tragedy in a mini-documentary filmed at Finneytown High School.

Although it has been decades, those impacted by what happened on December 3, 1979 will never forget.

Eleven people lost their lives that day when a crowd of 2,000 rushed into Cincinnati’s Riverfront Coliseum. They were all there to see the rock band "The Who" perform.

Three of the people who died were Finneytown students: Stephan Preston, Jackie Eckerle and Karen Morrison.

In 2010, some friends and fellow classmates created the P.E.M. Scholarship Fund to honor Preston, Eckerle and Morrison.

Each year the P.E.M. committee gives out three scholarships to three Finneytown seniors who are pursuing the arts.

“We’re turning a negative situation into a positive thing,” said Steve Bentz, with the P.E.M. committee. "They all loved the arts.”

They also established memorials at the Finneytown school performing arts center. Inside, there is a collection of personal mementos, and outside, there is a special space that includes a bench.

For the first time ever, the alumni shared what they have created with the lead singer of “The Who,” Roger Daltrey, when he traveled to Cincinnati in the summer of 2018.

Daltrey met with the alumni and with the families of the three late students.

“He does mourn December 3rd every year," said Fred Wittenbaum, with P.E.M.

The moments they shared together were captured on camera and then put together in a mini-documentary created by RESLV.

That footage has now been released to the public.

“Just tears when you watch it. It hits you hard," said Wittenbaum.

The people behind P.E.M. are hoping it will inspire future generations to carry the touch and ensure that the scholarship fund, along with the three late students’ legacies, will live on.

“Our hope is that it can continue on forever so that way, our three friends’ names will continue on forever," said Wittenbaum.

You can watch the mini-documentary, and hear what Daltrey had to say during his visit, here.

To learn more about the P.E.M. scholarships, visit the P.E.M. website.

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