8 Rockers Who Are Veterans
By Dave Basner
November 11, 2018
Today we observe Veterans Day and among the soldiers being honored are some famous rockers. Here's a list of 8 amazing musicians who also served in the armed forces:
1. Maynard James Keenan - The Tool singer was so inspired by Bill Murray's performance in the 1981 film Stripes that he enlisted in the Army with the hope that his art school education would be funded by the G.I. Bill. Maynard served as a forward observer before studying at the United States Military Academy Prep School. Although he was distinguished in both basic and advanced training, he turned down an appointment to West Point, instead choosing to pursue music.
3. Jimi Hendrix - By the time he was 19, Jimi had been caught two times riding in stolen cars and was given the choice to either go to prison or join the Army. He picked the Army, enlisting in 1961 and completing basic raining at California's Fort Ord. He was assigned to the 101st Airborne Division and stationed at Fort Campbell in Kentucky. At times, Jimi was accused of neglecting his duties on base because he was obsessed with his guitar. He was able to complete his paratrooper training but his superiors didn't think he was fit to be a soldier. He had poor marksmanship, napped while on duty and in 1962, was given an honorable discharge before seeing any combat.
4. Bruce Dickinson - The Iron Maiden singer's father was a mechanic in the British Army and hoped his son would follow suit. After high school, Bruce did join the Territorial Army, a part-time voluntary force of the British Army, but he didn't feel it was a career choice and left after six months to pursue college and music.
5. Ray Manzarek - While drunk in New York, the late Doors keyboardist attempted to enlist in the Army Signal Crops as a camera operator, but was instead assigned to the Army Security Agency, a selective group made up of intelligence analysts. While in the Army, Ray played in music groups and was stationed in Okinawa, Japan and Laos. He was discharged after a year.
6. Jerry Garcia - After getting caught stealing his mom's car in 1960, the Grateful Dead frontman was punished and forced to join the Army. Following basic training, he was transferred to Fort Winfield Scott in San Francisco. He often missed roll call and went AWOL many times. Garcia was discharged before serving a full year.
7. Johnny Cash - The Man In Black enlisted in the Air Force in 1950 and went to basic training and technical training in San Antonio, before getting assigned to the 12th Radio Squadron Mobile. As part of the group, he was stationed in Landsberg, Germany as a Morse Code operator, intercepting Soviet Army transmissions during the Korean War. He was the first radio operator to pick up the news of Joseph Stalin's death. It was also in the Air Force that Johnny got his first guitar, taught himself to play and created his first band, The Landsberg Barbarians.
8. Elvis Presley - In 1958, the King of Rock and Roll was drafted into the Army as a private at Fort Chaffee in Arkansas. Not wanting to be treated differently, he told the Army they could do anything they want with him. He went to basic training at Fort Hood in Texas then joined the 3rd Armored Division in Germany where he met his future wife, Priscilla. During his time in the Army, he seriously studied karate and later used some of what he learned in his live performances. He donated his Army pay to charity, bought TVs for the base and even bought extra sets of fatigues for everyone in his outfit. He was honorably discharged as a sergeant in 1960.
To these men and all the soldiers out there this Veterans Day, we thank you.
Photo Credit: Getty