10 Famous Musicians Who Served in the Military


Some people go straight into their lifetime careers while others take time to realize what they want to do with their lives. This article lists ten famous musicians who served in the military before getting into the music industry.

10. Maynard James Keenan


First on the list of musicians who served in the military is Maynard James Keenan. If you are a true fan of alternative metal, art rock, progressive metal, or alternative rock, then you must have heard of Keenan. Before joining the music industry, Keenan was a soldier for three years in Kansas City. He says it’s an experience that helped shape his view of life. Maynard is also a songwriter, record producer, actor, and winemaker who owns merkin vineyards in Arizona.

9. Mystikal


The American wrapper Michael Lawrence Tyler, also known as Mystikal, was once a soldier serving as a combat engineer. His music career began after opening for RUN-D.M.C and Doug-e at an outdoor concert at Treme center. Big boy records house producer Edward’s happened to be in the audience, and he granted him a contract. Mystikal then rose to be a renowned rapper. He has collaborated with major artists like Lil Wayne and Mariah Carey in her album rainbow.

8. Shaggy


Every time the name Shaggy comes up, the song “It Wasn’t Me” rings on one’s mind. It was such a hit, not forgetting other club bangers he has released including, “Boombastic,” “angel,” or “in the summertime.” Shaggy served as a marine soldier before he started showering the world with his mind-blowing tracks. His service in the Gulf War was an experience that sobered him, and he decided to commit himself fully to music.

7. Ice T


Ice T is also among the famous musicians who served in the military. Tracy Lauren Marrow, or better, ‘Ice T,” as many call him, is an American rapper who adopted the name “Ice T” as a tribute to iceBerg slim. He performed as a Dj at parties, but he realized that he got more attention for his rapping. As a result, Ice T decided to pursue music as a rapper. In a bid to support his young family financially, Ice T joined the army, where he served for four years. During training and service in the 25th infantry division, ice t managed to save up and acquire music equipment and hone his skills. He left the army and sealed his first major deal with sire records. Later on, he established the Rhyme Syndicate, his label.

6. Mc Hammer


Mc Hammer is the first hip-hop artist to achieve diamond status for an album. He was also the first to incorporate elements of freestyle music into his hip-hop songs. He is therefore considered the pioneer of pop rap. Before becoming Hammer, Stanley Kirk Burrell served in the army as a petty officer third class aviation storekeeper for three years in California. He also used to be a master of ceremonies, which led him to acquire the nickname M.C.

5. John Coltrane


He was a saxophonist and a composer who remains the most influential saxophonist in the industry. John Coltrane joined the navy in 1945 as a volunteer apprentice seaman, where he recorded with the navy band melody masters. The American saxophonist made waves in the 20th century with great albums. Such as “my favorite thing” and “a live Supreme.” He is among the most innovative musicians in jazz history.

4. Jerry Garcia


Among musicians who served in the military is yet another great American guitarist, songwriter, and singer Jerry Gracia. Jerry was a founding member of the rock band “Grateful Dead“. The Grateful Dead was one of the most successful touring bands. Before then, Jerry Gracia served in the United States Army, where he smuggled his guitar. He got discharged in December 1960 for missing roll calls and accruing several counts of AWOL. He had only served for eight months.

3. Jimi Hendrix


Jimi is one of the most celebrated artists of the 20th century and also among musicians who served in the military. He got arrested in connection with a car robbery in 1961, and he had a choice between joining the army or serving two years in prison. Jimi was already a skilled guitarist while joining the military. He would perform in late-night clubs and bars, often missing bed checks in base. In 1962 he was dishonorably discharged from the army, citing unsuitability.

2. Elvis Presley


The king of rock and roll, Elvis Presley, was an American singer and actor who made hits like “all shook up,” “it’s now or never” and “always on my mind.” Elvis got offered an opportunity to enlist in special services entertaining the army troops in 1958. This move was welcomed by most religious leaders, teachers, and parents as he had previously been marked as a bad influence causing national outrage with his rock and roll music. During his time in the army, Elvis completed basic and advanced military training. It’s also during that time Elvis is known to have started using drugs, a journey that eventually led to his death.

1. Johnny Cash


“Johnny Cash,” as the man introduced himself, has many iconic songs that steered his way into rock and roll, country music, and gospel music halls of fame. If you are a fan of Johnny Cash, you must have listened to I walk the line, man in black, “ring of fire” or “get the rhythm.” These are some of his signature songs. But did you know that cash also served in the army? It was during his time in service when he bought his first-ever guitar. Johnny served in the military for three years before being honorably discharged in 1954.


Some iconic figures embraced in the music industry had a very different life before getting into music and fame. The ten famous musicians who served in the military include Johnny Cash, Elvis Presley, Jimi Hendrix, Jerry Gracia, John Coltrane, Mc hammer, ice t, shaggy, Mystikal, and Maynard James Keenan.

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