For Those Who Served + Rocked We Salute You: 21 Musicians Who Were In The Military


You would think that the rigorous discipline of the military life and the unrestrained freedom of the music world would be at odds, but as it turns out, a number of rockers, rappers and musicians of all kinds have signed up and done their duty in defense of their countries. Some, like crooner Tony Bennett and former-Nirvana and Soundgarden member Jason Everman, have been on the frontlines of armed combat at its worst, while others like MC Hammer and Elvis Presley have served during times of relative peace. And, of course, given their natural inclination to indulge their creative impulses, guitar greats like Jimi Hendrix and Jerry Garcia of The Grateful Dead were never really cut out for Army life in the first life and were discharged before finishing their tours of duty. But on this Veteran’s Day, it’s important to acknowledge their contributions and those of all people who serve or have served in keeping their countries safe and protecting these freedoms which we hold so dear.

  • 1 Elvis Presley
    At the height of his fame The King of Rock N’ Roll enlisted in the U.S. Army, eventually achieving the rank of Sergeant before being honorably discharged. [Photo Credit: Getty Images]

  • 2 Jason Everman (right)
    This Seattle native played in both Nirvana and Soundgarden before enlisting in the Special Forces where he served with distinction in Afghanistan and Iraq. [Photo Credit: Ian Tilton/New York Times]

  • 3 MC Hammer
    The Bay Area rapper served three years in the U.S. Navy as a Petty Officer Third Class Aviation Store Keeper before achieving fame. [Photo Credit: Getty Images]

  • 4 Tony Bennett
    One of the great vocalists of all-time, Bennett was drafted into the Army in 1944 and saw hard combat during the final days of World War II. [Photo Credit: Getty Images]

  • 5 Maynard James Keenan
    Tool’s enigmatic lead singer enlisted in the U.S. Army and studied at the United States Military Academy Preparatory School but turned down an appointment to West Point to pursue his interests in art and music. [Photo Credit: Getty Images]

  • 6 Johnny Cash
    The “Man In Black” earned the rank of Sergeant when he served in the U.S. Air Force intercepting codes in Germany at the outset of The Cold War. [Photo Credit: Getty Images]

  • 7 Jimi Hendrix
    The 1960s guitar great enlisted in the Airborne Rangers. Although he passed boot camp, he was considered a poor soldier and was given an Honorable Discharge before seeing combat. [Photo Credit: Getty Images]

  • 8 Shaggy
    Though born in Jamaica, Mr. “Boombastic” enlisted in the U.S. military after moving to Brooklyn as a teen and served with the 5th Battalion 10th Marines during the Gulf War. [Photo Credit: Getty Images]

  • 9 Mystikal
    The controversial New Orleans rapper joined the Army after high school and served in Operation: Desert Storm. [Photo Credit: Getty Images]

  • 10 James Blunt
    The English singer-songwriter was a Captain in the British Army in Kosovo before finding fame with his guitar. [Photo Credit: Getty Images]

  • 11 Gene Autry
    The singing cowboy was a Flight Officer in the U.S. Army Air Forces during World War II. [Photo Credit: Getty Images]

  • 12 John Coltrane
    The groundbreaking jazz saxophonist was a Seaman First Class in the U.S. Navy. [Photo Credit: Getty Images]

  • 13 Kris Kristofferson
    The famed singer-songwriter was a Captain in the U.S. Army and was even offered a teaching position at West Point but instead pursued his dream of music. [Photo Credit: Getty Images]

  • 14 Billy Cox, Band Of Gypsys
    Bassist Cox first met friend and future bandmate Jimi Hendrix when they were stationed together in Fort Campbell, Kentucky in the U.S. Army. [Photo Credit: Getty Images]

  • 15 B.B. King
    The king of blues guitar served in the U.S. Army during World War II but mostly drove a tractor at a plantation that was growing cotton for the military. [Photo Credit: Getty Images]

  • 16 John Fogerty
    The Creedence Clearwater Revival bandleader served in the Army Reserves at the height of the Vietnam War, but as a reservist, would never see combat. [Photo Credit: Getty Images]

  • 17 Howlin’ Wolf
    The blues great enlisted in the U.S. Army during World War II but was discharged before being sent overseas. [Photo Credit: Getty Images]

  • 18 Ice-T
    Immediately after graduating high school, the actor/rapper enlisted in the army, where he dedicated four years of service.

  • 19 Jerry Garcia
    After stealing his mother’s car, the future Grateful Dead guitarist enlisted in the Army, but wasn’t cut out for the military life and eventually received a general discharge. [Photo Credit: Getty Images]

  • 20 Ray Manzarek
    ” alt=”Ray Manzarek The Doors keyboardist enlisted in the U.S. Army and served in Thailand but was discharged after a little over a year. [Photo Credit: Getty Images]”]The Doors keyboardist enlisted in the U.S. Army and served in Thailand but was discharged after a little over a year. [Photo Credit: Getty Images]

  • 21 Fred Durst
    The Limp Bizkit front man signed on with the Navy, spending a couple of years in military service before returning to his hometown of Jacksonville, Florida. [Photo Credit: Getty Images]