Star-Spangled Ban Erred
Jimi Hendrix went into the U.S. Army as the alternative choice to spending 2 years jail-time over a stolen car. He became a paratrooper in the 101st Airborne Division, serving out of Fort Campbell, Kentucky. Despite sounding excited about being a paratrooper, supervisors often described him in this manner: "his mind apparently cannot function while performing duties and thinking about his guitar". There really doesn't appear to be much positive in the record books, regarding his conduct as a soldier.
According to Charles Cross, Hendrix was discharged from the military when he faked a love interest in another soldier. This was at a time before large deployments were being made to Vietnam; and before the anti-war movement manifested itself and gathered steam. So if not objections to the war, what was his motive then, for lying to get out of the military? Simply, it was his passion for playing the guitar.
Wayne Pemu writes:
In "America's Victories", Paul Schweikart has this to say,
So, it looks like the military did have a positive influence on his way of thinking, after all, despite the reports on what a poor learner and lazy soldier he was. When this was news about a year ago, the lefty blogs were scratching their heads, confused on how to accept this revelation and how to reconcile and rationalize it in their heads, that one of their music gods of the anti-war generation was still one of them.
It is often the case, that musicians and artists in general, lean liberal. I suspect that unless an artist makes his political identity prominent and overt, overshadowing his identity as an entertainer, most people will not care what the person's political leanings are. So it was, that soldiers in Vietnam, reportedly, loved listening to Hendrix, even as he was claimed by the anti-war hippies as one of their own.
If I've gotten any of these facts wrong, or if my post paints an incomplete picture, feel free to fill me in on the straight dope. C'mon into the comments section, and shoot me up! I'm far from an expert on the life of the guitar legend.
Tradition keeps us rooted to some of the best parts of ourselves and to what made us great; but tradition can also lead to cultural stagnation. Americans sometimes love non-traditional renditions and innovations; but at other times, rejects it, if it fails the patriotic litmus test. Here are a few other star-mangled banners.