As we salute our brave veterans this weekend by playing your requests and song dedications we wanted to share with you a list of classic rockers that have ties to the military.
Hendrix served in the U.S. Army in the 101st Airborne Division from 1961 to 1962, when he was honorably discharged due to an ankle injury caused by a parachute jump. In addition to his injury, other ‘behavioral issues’ led his captain to eagerly allow his dismissal. Even when he was in service, Jimi still sought out the instrument that made him famous. He was known by fellow soldiers for playing guitar during his off-duty hours, especially when they were trying to sleep. After leaving the service, Jimi had plenty of time to perfect his radical guitar skills and become the rock legend we love.
At seventeen years old, Jerry Garcia joined the U.S. Army with hopes of seeing the wonders of the world. However, just eight months later, Garcia was discharged for “lack of suitability to the military lifestyle.” Little did he know that in a mere five years, he would be in one of the most legendary touring bands of all time, the Grateful Dead!
Despite Creedence Clearwater Revival’s often outspoken views on war, founding member John Fogerty served in the U.S. Army Reserves from 1966 to 1968. These experiences gave him the fuel he needed to write some of CCR’s most timeless tunes.
‘Fortunate Son’ was more about the unfairness of who is saddeled with fighting in war rather than being against war. Fogerty remarked ‘It’s the old saying about rich men making war and poor men having to fight them’. ‘Proud Mary’ was written while Fogerty was ‘high’ off of the exuberance of being discharged from the Reserves. The chords and lyrics flowed through his being as he contemplated the reality that he was no longer in danger of dieing in an overseas battle.
While many misconstrue the lyrics in some of CCR’s songs as being antipatriotic or against the military, Fogerty’s reverence and commitment to supporting the members of our armed forces has never wavered. Fogerty remains a huge proponent of veterans, and performs as benefits, such as Concert of Valor and A Salute to the Troops: In Performance at the White House.
After his time at DePaul University, Ray Manzarek enlisted in the U.S. Army and served in both Japan and Thailand as part of the Army Security Agency. However, his civil duty could not keep him away from his taste for music – while in Thailand, he would entertain soldiers by playing tunes on the piano.
Did we miss anyone? Let us know in the comments below.
Rockers With Military Background:
The Allman Brothers
The Allman brothers are no strangers to the U.S. military, although neither one of them served. Born to a World War II veteran, who was later tragically murdered by a hitchhiker in Virginia, Duane and Gregg attended Castle Heights Military Academy in their youth while their mother earned a college degree to improve the family’s quality of life. Even the heavy handedness of military school couldn’t suppress Duane and Gregg’s rambunctious ways. A few years after their departure from Castle Heights, Duane coaxed Gregg to shoot himself in the foot at a party. This injury ended up preventing him from being able to serve in the military.
Roger Daltrey was born during World War II – in fact, London was being bombed the very day he was born in a hospital in West London. Three months later, the severity of the War required Daltrey’s father to serve overseas, leaving Roger and his mother to evacuate to the countryside of Scotland until his return years later. However, this trajectory set in motion his families eventual move Acton, England, where Daltrey first met future bandmate, Pete Townshend.
Robert Plant’s father served as a civil engineer in the Royal Air Force during World War Two.
Stephen Stills spent his childhood moving all around the southern United States and Central America as a result of his father serving in the military. His travels helped him develop his eclectic taste in blues, folk, and Latin music. These influences and his experiences certainly shaped his musical ambitions and the unique sound of Crosby, Stills, & Nash.
Michael Stipe of REM
While REM’s lead singer didn’t serve in the military, his Dad did. As a result, he spent much of his childhood traveling the country and world with his father. It makes sense that R.E.M. were such prolific road warriors during the early part of their career. Stipe was comfortable with traveling.
Across the pond, a thirteen-year-old Keith Moon performed his civil duty by playing the bugle in the Sea Cadet Corps, a volunteer youth faction in the Royal Navy. From there, he experimented with the trumpet and then finally the bass drum, which guided him to a lifelong pursuit of drumming greatness in The Who.