Famous Musicians from Military Backgrounds

The link between music and the military is as strong as ever. There have been a considerable number of singers that have had direct connections with the Army, Air Force and Navy over time. In this blog, we will take a look at some of the most famous musicians and their military backgrounds.

Jimi Hendrix

World famous guitarist Jimi Hendrix found himself getting into a whole load of trouble in his teenage years. The musician who is most known for some of the best guitar riffs, including:

  • Purple Haze – 1967
  • Little Wing – 1967
  • Voodoo Child – 1968
  • Ezy Rider – 1971

Although his top-flight music career only spanned 4 short years, it is well believed that Hendrix inspired the start of the electric guitar revolution. At the age of 19, Hendrix found himself arrested on the charge of stealing two vehicles. Faced with a simple choice of prison or the army, Hendrix chose the latter. Stationed at Fort Campbell, he was part of the 101st Airborne Division where it is alleged he got into further trouble by playing guitar instead of reporting to officers.

Elvis Presley

Elvis Aaron Presley took the unusual move of enlisting during the height of his fame, serving as a sergeant between 1958 and 1960. On the 24th March 1958, Presley reported for his induction training. He undertook his medical and was given the number 53310761 on a day that was often referred to as “Black Monday” by many of his global fans.

The army marked a particularly difficult time in young Presley’s life. Sadly just prior to being stationed in Germany, his mother Gladys took ill and passed away. The inspiration for his life had left Presley in turmoil and market what was considered by many as the start of the end for the most famous of singers.

Elvis Presley in Tupelo, Mississippi
Sept 26, 1956
© 1978 Roger Marshutz—MPTV

It was during his time in Germany that Presley met Priscilla Beaulieu, who at the time was a mere 14 years old. Presley took an instant like to the young lady which of course culminated in marriage some 7 years later. After his release from the Army, Presley’s fame increased as he made a strong connection with an older generation of fans. He went on to record ballads instead of the usual rock and roll tracks, which closer aligned him to his new fan-base.

James Blunt

British singer, songwriter James Blunt enlisted into the army in 1996 and rose to the heights of captain. During his time in the forces he served in the Kosovo War, in the Life Guards Unit. It was during his time in Kosovo that Blunt wrote his hit song “No Bravery”, which he performed in front of fellow troops and locals. He was most famed for taking his guitar along and strapping it to the front of his tank.

Other notable tracks recorded by Blunt includes:

  • You’re Beautiful
  • 1973
  • Goodbye My Lover
  • Tears And Rain
  • Wiseman
  • Carry You Home

Still recording today, Blunt has sold over 20 million records around the world and has received two Brit-Awards as well as receiving no less than five Grammy Award nominations.