On Aug. 17, 1969, a rainstorm hit Bethel, New York, in the late afternoon.
For Dennis Greene and his college band mates, this meant their moment to shine would have to wait.
The following morning at 5:30 a.m., Greene and his band Sha Na Na finally took the stage after an eight-hour delay, opening for Jimmy Hendrix in what Rolling Stone has called “the most famous event in rock history”: Woodstock.
“The experience was amazing due to the incredibly positive attitude of the concert-goers, who in the face of rain, mud, shortages of water and food were sharing and concerned for each other in a manner that I haven’t seen before or since. I was there for several days, but each group performed a set at a scheduled time. Due to the rainstorm on Sunday afternoon, the concert began running late, so although we were originally scheduled to perform on Sunday night at 9:30 pm, to be followed by the headliner Jimi Hendrix at 10 pm, we performed at 5:30 am the next morning followed by Hendrix,” Greene said.
Thirty-one years later, Greene is performing for quite a different audience. As a law professor at UD since 2004, he now spends his time teaching entertainment law, constitutional law, torts, race and American law and intellectual property.
He still looks back on his music career as a valuable experience that has shaped him in many ways.
The forming of Greene’s band dates back to 1969 when he was a freshman at Columbia University.
During his first year on campus, he joined a group called the Columbia Kingsmen that performed a cappella music on campus.
In the spring of 1969, the group performed at a carnival and decided to change its name to Sha Na Na.
Sha Na Na got its first big break that summer when they performed at a New York club called Steve Paul’s Scene. After playing at the club, Sha Na Na booked a spot at Woodstock.
From there, the band took off.
The musicians performed at national venues including Madison Square Garden and Carnegie Hall, did shows in other countries including Norway and Japan and even played on the “Tonight Show,” all while being full-time students.
“I really didn’t plan on necessarily staying in a rock-and-roll group for 15 years,” he said on his UD Story at udayton.edu. “That was the last thing on my mind. But when it happened, and it happened so quickly, it was a wonderful, fortuitous thing.”
Over their 15-year career, the members of Sha Na Na performed in the film “Grease,” produced eight albums and hosted a TV variety show.
“It turned into an incredible kind of magic carpet that took me into places I never would have been exposed to otherwise,” he said in his UD Story.
After 15 years of performing, Greene decided it was time for change.
He attended graduate school at Harvard University and studied interactive technology.
Following Harvard, Greene attended Yale Law School and then worked as vice president of production and features at Columbia Pictures. After this, he took on the position of president of Lenox/Greene Films.
Before becoming a UD professor, Greene also worked at Florida A&M University, University of Oregon, The Ohio State University, Seton Hall University and the University of Connecticut.
He has been part of the board of directors for the Society of American Law Teachers and on the Law School Admissions Council’s services and programs committee.
While at UD, Greene has started a law and leadership institute for eighth-grade students to learn about the legal profession and a street law program for Dayton Early College Academy students.
The UD professor encourages student artists to pursue their music dreams just as he did.
“I would tell them that they should work hard to develop their artistry and then go forward boldly to express their vision to the world, empowered by the knowledge that due to the decentralization of much of mass media industry through the rise of digital media and the Internet, they can develop an artistic career from wherever they’re based and find audiences in locations around the planet based upon their own commitment without a major media corporation’s sponsorship,” he said.
Looking back, Greene said his musical experiences have influenced his current career at UD and have made him who he is today.
“My experiences from my music career were based in communication and performance, which play an important part in teaching,” he said. “International travel and university education gave me a great appreciation for a wide range of people and ideas. All of these factors have been significant in contributing to who I am today as a person and a teacher.”
– Flyer News
Jacqui Boyle, A&E Editor