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4 Rock Stars Who Served in the U.S. Military

Some, like former Nirvana and Soundgarden member Jason Everman, have been at the forefront of active combat; others, like Elvis Presley, served during more peaceful eras of U.S. history. A few late greats — most notably Jimi Hendrix and Jerry Garcia — didn't quite take to Army life and were discharged before finishing their assignments. Some channeled their military experience into their musical work, like Creedence Clearwater Revival's John Fogerty.

John Fogerty

In 1966, three years before the release of "Fortunate Son," John Fogerty entered a military recruiter's office around the time his draft number came up. He signed up with the U.S. Army Reserve as a supply clerk.

Elvis Presley

When Elvis Presley entered the Army in 1958, he was at the height of his popularity.

He was offered a chance to enlist in Special Services to entertain the troops but was persuaded by his manager to instead serve as a regular soldier, a decision that earned him the respect of not only his fellow military men but older folks back home who viewed him and his music as a threat on America's youth.

Bill Withers

Eager to leave his small West Virginia hometown, Bill Withers enlisted in the U.S. Navy at age 17.

President Harry Truman had desegregated the military in 1948, but Withers soon discovered a thick layer of prejudice remained. “My first goal was I didn’t want to be a cook or a steward,” he told Rolling Stone. “So I went to aircraft-mechanic school.

I still had to prove to people that thought I was genetically inferior that I wasn’t too stupid to drain the oil out of an airplane.” Withers stayed in the Navy for nine years; he credited the experience with helping him overcome a childhood stutter. He was discharged in 1965.

B.B. King

A young B.B. King enrolled in the Army in 1943 in the middle of World War II. He was sent home shortly afterward because he drove a tractor back home in Mississippi, an essential home-front occupation during the war.

There, he continued to appear on local radio stations and developed a growing fan base.

Source: UCR

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