1961-1962: Jimi Hendrix in the Army

“Hendrix got into trouble with the law twice for riding in stolen cars. He was given a choice between spending two years in prison or joining the Army. Hendrix chose the latter and enlisted on May 31, 1961. He was assigned to the 101st Airborne Division”

- Wikipedia


22 Responses

  1. Len Day

    Great pics for Hendrix fans – but look at item 7 on his discharge papers!

  2. Phipps Butler

    Whats your point Len ???
    He can pluck strings for you auditory entertainment but can’t pluck his own for his personal entertainment.
    Enjoy the music and stop the judgement. The man was remarkable.
    Len who??
    good night

  3. RetardSpotter


  4. gladeye

    I wonder how he felt about spending so much time with mortals during this period.I thought he joined the military by choice, but I’m not certain.Because of his time in the military, Jimi was different from a lot of rock stars and hippies in that he was fairly supportive of soldiers and what they were going through in Viet Nam.

  5. Jim

    Jimi was obviously NOT A GOOD SOLDIER!! Note to “gladeye”.. “What drugs have YOU been taking?” Where is the even the smallest bit of information out there that Jimi supported the troops and/or the war effort? He joined the army because “he had to” …or go to jail! (real tough choice!) And then, after a year or so.. he gets KICKED OUT. Without a guitar in his hands.. Jimi was a zero! It was truly amazing that he even made it to the ripe, old age of “27″. Life for Jimi..was just a “Purple Haze”. ~nuff said!

    • Hendrix Fan

      Um, ever heard of Machine gun??? Listen to what he says before he mesmorizes the audience with his mind blowing performance. You arrogant, pompous moron.

  6. James

    To clear things up… Jimi intentionally masturbated in his army bunk so the officials thought he was homosexual. He was subsequently discharged.

    • Elwood P. Dowd

      If you look at his discharge papers, that’s NOT what happened. He was basically worthless as a soldier, couldn’t even shoot worth squat, and couldn’t even manage to be a supply clerk successfully.

      Even though he liked to brag about being in the 101st Airborne, in fact he was just a clerk in an ancillary unit and couldn’t even manage to qualify as a paratrooper. You’ll notice that there are no wings on his uniform in any of those photos.

      The 101st routinely dumped losers like that — the ones that had some hope of retriaining went to other units for a second chance, but if you were a total screwup they just discharged you, like they did Hendrix.

      He was undoubtedly one of the best guitarists of his time … but aside from that he was a complete loser in every aspect of his life.

  7. Carl

    Remember there was the draft and a really senseless war. People of color where were taking an inordinate share of the casualties. If you didn’t go to college and get a deferment, going in the service and getting out early was actually better.

  8. mike

    Jim, where is there “even the smallest bit of information” to support yr contention that “Without a guitar in his hands.. Jimi was a zero.” That’s about as intelligent as saying without the military, George Patton was a zero. You obviously feel a need to shout to the world that Jimi was “NOT A GOOD SOLDIER!!” Clearly, you either have some kind of ax to grind or you’d rather look at the negatives and reduce one of our culture’s greatest and most transformative artists to everything he wasn’t in your eyes.

    • Elwood P. Dowd

      Well, the fact is that he was indeed a LOUSY soldier, and he was quite fortunate to have been thrown out quietly instead of court-martialed. Normally, anyone who routinely sneaked off from duty, disappeared from the company area, and couldn’t even do a simple job right without constant supervision was Article 15′d a few times, spent some time in the stockade, and was eventually thrown out with an Undesirable or Dishonorable Discharge. IN ’62 hardly anything was happening in Vietnam yet, and the peacetime Army was lax as could be. Four or five years later he’d have done jail time and been drummed out.

  9. tr

    My dad was in the army and we lived at Ft. Campbell where Jimi was stationed. Even 30 years after Jimi had been in, there were still stories going around about “Jimi played here” and all. For example, its said Jimi played in the Officer’s club at least once. Freakin hilarious! He played in the NCO club a bunch of times apparently. Even though it was 30+ years after the fact, I felt like I got to rub elbows with him. Its the closest I’ll ever get.

  10. Joanne

    Ahh, but WITH a guitar in his hands Jimi was fanf***ingtastic! And I’m quite sure he was never a “Zero” (whatever that is).

  11. Chris

    Pretty sure this is false. He was discharged due to a broken ankle after a parachuting exercise.

    • Elwood P. Dowd

      He didn’t even qualify for his wings. Ever wonder why he isn’t wearing any in these photos?

      Read the whole file. I was in the Army back then and have seen enough of these papers to smell a con job. This isn’t one. If you’d ever been thru jump school and then read what Hendrix’s soldiering skills were like, the idea of him even getting past the first week on the ground is absurd.

  12. Len

    Jimi made a total of 7 jumps. 6 from a C-130 and 1 from a C-119. He never injured himself jumping as was reported in other websites. He repeatedly missed bed check because he liked to go to town to play his guitar in a small band. One officer ordered him to be at all bed checks and of course he missed one. He was observed by two NCOs masturbating in the latrine and that finished his career. being lazy at work didn’t help his defense. He had a lawyer represent him at his trial.
    I ordered his complete 201 file from the National Archives and saw all his documents and medical records. It wasn’t that he was bad….he just wasn’t Army material

  13. Michael McKee

    Jimi? A Paratrooper?
    FALSE. I served with Jimi at Ft. Campbell in 1961 & 1962.

    His choice from the judge in Seattle was 2 years in jail or join the Army. After Basic Training in California, he was sent to Ft. Campbell, KY, right on the border of Tennessee.
    He was NOT in a parachute infantry regiment, but in the 801st Maintenance Battalion. As far as I know, he was never airborne qualified. (Some civilian wrote that he had made TWENTY-SIX jumps – in less than one year? Right.)
    Photos of him never show he earned paratrooper’s wings. He did write a letter to his father, Claiming that during training he had jumped out of the 34 foot tower. THAT is where he might have gotten his so-called “ankle injury.”

    WHY was he discharged? That’s Very clear and officially recorded. He couldn’t cut it. Specifically, the discharge papers stated – “Behavior problems. Requires excessive supervision while on duty. Little regard for regulations.” (31May62)

    In just one year after a forced enlistment, he was kicked out for disciplinary, NOT medical, reasons..
    Bad soldier. VERY Creative guitarist.


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