May 31: Musician Jimi Hendrix Enlisted In The U.S. Military On This Date In 1961

0 Posted by - May 31, 2022 - BLACK MUSIC, BLACKS IN THE MILITARY, LATEST POSTS, On This Date

By Victor Trammell

Photo credits: Ed Caraeff

James “Jimi” Marshall Hendrix is considered by rock music purists to be the greatest guitarist of all time.

He started honing his skills in youth – long before the days of his illustrious music career. However, what some may not know is that Hendrix had a career as a member of the U.S. Armed Forces prior to becoming a multi-generational rock star. Once upon a time, the icon who stole the show at Woodstock was a humble military serviceman.

However, one might say that he did not voluntarily sign up for the task. In his youth, Hendrix caught a hefty criminal case – one involving auto theft in 1961. The young future rocker was given an ultimatum: Go to prison for his part in the stolen automobile crimes or join the military to make the case go away. Hendrix chose the latter.

On May 31, 1961, Hendrix enlisted in the military. He was assigned to the 101st Airborne Division and stationed in Fort Campbell, Kentucky.

Hendrix had agreed to serve for three years. However, after a year, his senior commander, Captain Gilbert Batchman, had had enough. Batchman argued that Hendrix should be dismissed. His issues were deemed untreatable by “hospitalization or therapy.”

A reported ankle injury sustained during a parachute drop allowed  Hendrix to get an honorable release from active service. He was ready to accommodate. While serving at Fort Campbell and Fort Ord in California, he at least had access to top-tier dental treatment.

This consideration would serve Hendrix well further along in his music career – as he once masterfully played guitar with his teeth during a performance.


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