Memorial Day Rockers, Part 1: The Army

Today, as you crack open that precious can of Sparks and turn over the steaks on the grill, it's important to remember the men and women who have sacrificed their lives and bodies to give you this three-day weekend.

Memorial Day was first established in 1868 to honor the men who fell during the Civil War. After the huge loss of American life in World War I, the holiday grew to include any enlisted person who died in defense of our country.

Originally, the holiday was observed on May 30, but it was soon changed to the last Monday in May. This is a point of contention with many veterans groups, who believe the holiday's true meaning has been obscured by massive barbecues and booze-tastic marathons of excess.

In honor of the holiday, we will honor rockers, rappers, and all-around music pioneers who have donned the uniform. It's a motley group of men, to say the least. First up, the U.S. Army.

Elvis on Induction Day

Elvis Presley: The King of Rock and Roll gave up his hair, chicks and being well, Elvis, to answer his country's call. He received his draft notice in December 1957, and completed his basic training at Fort Hood by the end of the next summer.

While enlisted, Presley bought his fellow soldiers extra uniforms, televisions for their barracks, and was generally known as a good soldier. However, his absence led his beloved mother, Gladys, to begin drinking heavily out of sadness. She died in 1958 due to complications from all that imbibing.

Even though Sgt. Presley was a top-notch soldier, the Army also introduced him to amphetamines and karate. A fellow soldier gave Presley a few pills to stay awake on watch and the King was hooked. The addiction would end up playing a part in killing him in 1977 - if, that is, you think Elvis is really dead.

Armed Forces Radio interviews Jimi Hendrix

Jimi Hendrix: It's hard to imagine noodly guitar great Jimi Hendrix as a soldier, but he enlisted in 1961, an alternative to jail for the teenager. He only lasted a year in the Army, repeatedly being reprimanded for insubordination and general laziness.

Maynard James Keenan: The lead singer of Tool, A Perfect Circle and the owner of Merkin Vineyards, joined the Army right out of high school.

Keenan watched the 1981 Bill Murray classic Stripes and got the itch to enlist. Also, the G.I. Bill benefits could fund art school later down the line. Keenan was actually a very decent soldier, singing in the glee club and running on the cross-country team. He declined an appointment to the prestigious West Point school to pursue music

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Craig Hlavaty
Contact: Craig Hlavaty