Five Heavy Metal Musician Veterans
Put up your metal horns kids, today is National Metal Day! \m/ I think it’s great that metal is getting its very own day of recognition, honor and homage. In my opinion it should get an entire week or month, but hey why be greedy right? Well, today is also Veterans Day, which should also be honored, because without all of our veterans we wouldn’t have the freedoms and rights we do today. I thought I would mix the two together and give you a list of five metal musicians who are also veterans. They might be a surprise to you, but without these individuals we wouldn’t have freedom or good metal, so read on and check out what metal heads also served in the military.
1. Bruce Dickinson- Iron Maiden Frontman- Territorial Army
At just 53-years-old, Bruce Dickinson has had quite the life as a singer and rock star for one of the most legendary metal bands, airplane pilot, author, fencer and veteran. He was born and raised in England, mostly by his grandparents. His father was in the military as well, as he served as mechanic for the army. Dickinson was not close to his parents at all growing up, and at 13 was enrolled into a boarding school in Northamptonshire, England, his birth place. During his time there, he became interested in the military and co-founded the school’s wargames society, and was quite powerful in the cadet force. It was during this time that Dickinson was allowed to experiment with real live ammunition, which he took advantage of by using them for booby traps.
Territorial soldiers and officers train in their spare time to provide support to full-time Regular units when they’re needed. When the Army goes on operations overseas, you’ll find Territorial soldiers serving alongside the Regulars. From doctors and nurses in field hospitals to Infantry soldiers working on the front line, most Army jobs are open to Territorials.
Dickinson served in the TA for approximately six months, despite his parents desires for him to be in
the army. He left to pursue school and music full-time.
2. Pete Altieri- Former Sacred Oath Bassist- Army
Pete Altieri formed Sacred Oath in 1985 with friend and classmate Rob Thorne in Bethel, Connecticut.At just a young age, the bassist formed a band and was signed to a record label shortly after. The band quickly took off, but a few years into it, Altieri decided to enlist in the army.
Most people expect a band like us to be saying the government’s horrible, the country sucks, Altieri said. In fact, we’re the opposite. Two of us served in the military, and we couldn’t respect more what they do.
Altieri served in the army for three years before being forced out after a car accident while on duty in Fort Hood, Texas. Les Aldridge, the guitarist for Altieri’s second band Low Twelve, also served in the army as mechanic for heavy vehicles in settings such as Germany and Korea.
After a 10-year hiatus, Sacred Oath was reformed, sans Altieri, and has been active ever since. He still resides with metal band Low Twelve, which has been active since 1998.
We want to give credit where credit is due, Aldridge said. People always take things for granted, but after serving in the military, I would never be able to take their service for granted. We have a lot of fans that are soldiers, and I guarantee that when a GI comes to our shows, we spoil them rotten.
3. Maynard James Keenan- Tool and A Perfect Circle Frontman- Army
Maynard James Keenan is a man of many talents, being the vocalist for two bands, as well as a record producer and actor. At age 47, he has already made quite the name for himself. However, before he was known solely as a musician, he served time in the U.S. army.
Born in Akron, Ohio, Keenan was the only child of parents who divorced just four years after he was born. At age 17, Bill Murray’s performance in Stripes, the 1981 comedy film inspired Keenan to enroll in the army. His ultimate intention of joining was for the G.I. Bill to fund his dream of attending art school, his true calling.
[Keenan] initially served in the Army as a forward observer before studying at the United States Military Academy Preparatory School (West Point Prep School) from 1983 to 1984. In addition to completing a rigorous math and English curriculum, he ran on the cross country team and sang in the glee club. It was during his time in the military that he adopted the sobriquet “Maynard” on a whim. He was distinguished in basic and advanced training, but declined an appointment to West Point and instead chose to pursue a music career because of his disillusionment with his colleagues’ values and because he knew West Point would not tolerate his dissidence.
After completing his term in the army, Keenan studied art at Kendall College of Art and Design in Grand Rapids, Michigan. After graduating in 1988, he moved to Los Angeles and practiced interior design for a short time before moving on to pursue music as a career.
4. Ian Astbury- The Cult Frontman- Army
Glasgow, Scotland, Ireland, Canada and Liverpool, and has traveled to many parts of the world throughout his life so far: Japan, China, Nepal, Bombay, Tibet, Vietnam, Cuba, New York, London and Los Angeles. However, before he was able to travel, Astbury was homeless for a time after a dispute with his landlord, which taught him basic survivalist skills. In 1979, he served in the army, but only for a short time- 29 days. Luckily, his nomadic experience had prepared him for the homeless life and militant life. Had he stayed in the army, he probably would have adjusted very well.
The next year, Astbury moved to Bradford where he began his musical career. Despite his short time in the service, he is an avid WWII memorabilia collector and took with him many of the skills he learned during his brief time with the army.
5. Jimi Hendrix- Legendary Guitarist
He might not have been strictly heavy metal, but admit it, without this guy metal wouldn’t exist. He was perhaps the greatest guitarist that has ever played on this earth, and paved the way for other musicians and genres. We owe most good music to this man, because any decent guitarist out there has gotten their inspiration from Jimi Hendrix, period.
He was born in 1942 in Seattle, Washington. His father, Al Hendrix, was drafted into the U.S. Army in 1942 during WWII. Because of that, Jimi’s father (who had six fingers on each hand) was not present for his birth, and was forced to stay in the army for another three years after. After receiving honorable discharge in 1945, Al obtained his son, changed his name and raised him, as his mother was neglectful. The couple soon got back together and had four more children. Hendrix’s rough childhood was imprinted into his memory and would stay with him throughout his life.
On May 31, 1961 Hendrix enlisted in the army after getting in trouble with the law and being given a choice of joining the army or serving two years jail time.
After completing basic training, he was assigned to the 101st Airborne Division and stationed in Fort Campbell, Kentucky.
Hendrix wasn’t completely on top of things during his time in the army, and was asked to leave after serving just one year. However, during that year, he and fellow soldier and bassist Billy Cox would often perform together on and off base.
Despite his short time in the army, Hendrix did go on to discussit on three occasions in interviews that followed his time there:
The first being in 1967 for the film See My Music Talking (much later released under the title Experience), which was intended for TV to promote his recently released Axis: Bold as LoveLP, in which he spoke very briefly of his first parachuting experience: …once you get out there everything is so quiet, all you hear is the breezes-s-s-s… This comment has later been used to claim that he was saying that this was one of the sources of his “spacey” guitar sound. The second and third mentions of his military experience were in interviews for Melody Maker in 1967 and 1969.
After being discharged, Hendrix focused solely on his music career, which was bountiful, successful
and very well received by all. He died on September 18, 1970 and is a member of the 27 Club. It’s a shame he died so young, because had he still been alive today, I can only imagine the things he would have accomplished not only for himself, but for the rest of the music world as well. If every member of the 27 Club lived longer, there’s no doubt today’s music would be a lot different.
If you could be in the war with any musician, who would it be and why?