7 Musicians who have served in the military

These artists' most significant work wasn't just their records

Remembrance Day is a time to reflect and thank those who served (and continue to serve) in the military while remembering others who made the ultimate sacrifice. Here are a handful of musicians who were either drafted or have done different tours of duty.

James Blunt

In 1999 Blunt was a cavalry officer in the British army. Blunt played a direct role in the conflict in Kosovo and was once ordered to “overpower…200 or so Russians (in Kosovo).” Blunt’s general thought otherwise and didn’t execute the order. The “You’re Beautiful” singer saw six years of service and wrote “No Bravery” while in Kosovo.

(Photo by Daily Mail)


Jimi Hendrix

In 1961 a young Jimi Hendrix had a choice: do two years in prison for reportedly committing crimes involving stealing cars, or join the U.S. Army. The army won out. In May, 1961 Hendrix was part of the 101st Airborne Division stationed in Kentucky. After one year, and in part from an ankle injury, Hendrix received an honourable discharge.

Elvis Presley

In March, 1958 the “King” was inducted and transferred to Fort Hood in Texas. Later that year he was sent to West Germany in the 3rd Armored Division. During that time he met a teenage girl Priscilla Beaulieu who became his future wife. After being discharged in March, 1960 Presley said he was “glad” he served but “very happy to get back into what I was doing.”

A photo posted by @all_elvis_pics on


Bruce Springsteen

Ok, so he didn’t technically servce, but “The Boss” received a call for his service to Vietnam when he was 18. However – as told in an intro to “The River” from Live 1975-85 – Springsteen didn’t pass the physical. “When I got on the bus to take my physical, I thought one thing: I ain’t goin’,” he said. The singer pulled an all-nighter ensuring he wouldn’t be in prime condition for the test.


Johnny Cash

The legend enlisted in July, 1950 and spent most of his four years in Landsberg, West Germany as a radio intercept officer in the Air Force. This included deciphering Russian Morse codes. His military stint included writing “Folsom Prison Blues” in Germany in 1953.

Maynard James Keenan

The Tool/A Perfect Circle/Puscifer vocalist was inspired to join the military after watching the Bill Murray comedy Stripes. He served at the U.S. Military Academy Preparatory School from 1982 to 1984. Keenan hoped the stint would enable him to use the G.I. Bill and pay for attending an art college in Michigan. The singer said the army “influences everything I do” and taught him “discipline.”

A photo posted by Ben Tate (@bendtate) on



Although he’s known for “It Wasn’t Me,” it was Shaggy who served during the Gulf War. Shaggy served for four years in the U.S. Marines, adding he initially thought joining would be “like summer camp.” Like Maynard James Keenan, Shaggy said “the discipline that is required to do music, I could only get that from being in the Marines.”
(Main photo by Defence Images via Flickr)