August 1, 2005

The real reason Jimi didn't go to Vietnam?

Did you see there's a new Jimi Hendrix bio that claims he procured a discharge from the Army by saying he'd fallen in love with another soldier? (Kos has this discussion going.) Hendrix told people he'd been injured in a parachute jump. The book also says he only enlisted to avoid going to jail for stealing cars.

I wonder if that's true. Just recently, I was looking at his childhood drawings at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and was quite struck by his vivid interest in the military.

The author of the biography needs a newsy, juicy nugget to get publicity, and this allegation works awfully well. I hope it's not true.

I was just sitting in a café yesterday where they were playing "Are You Experienced?" and fell into a reverie about Jimi. I thought that of all the rock stars who checked out of this world early, the one it would have benefitted us the most to keep with us was Jimi.

13 comments:

Sloanasaurus said...

I don't see what difference it would make. Most people assume that most of the performers from the 1960s era were Janda Fonda traitor types anyways. You can still like their music (even if you despise them personally).

Ann Althouse said...

Jimi is on record as actually supporting the war, and Kos is now calling him a "chickenhawk." As the linked article says, Hendrix was a big anti-communist.

Sloanasaurus said...

Go Jimmi!

Ron said...

While I think Jimi was the most musically interesting, and often wonder what direction he would have gone, the one I feel most wistful about is Joplin. I view her as a fly in amber; stuck in that moment, both in her life and in time.

Goesh said...

J&J - jimi and Janis - both had to burn out and die young, there was no other way for either of them - too much intensity, too much pain, too much lonliness, too much life and love just out of reach. Excuse me while I kiss the sky.... there was more to Purple Haze than an acid trip.

Ann Althouse said...

Goesh: Yes, I was just noticing the "Are You Experienced?" line: "not necessarily stoned, but ... beautiful." But that makes me think if he had survived there would have been a second stage, and we never got to hear that. I also think that culturally, he was a bridge between black and white: he seemed to transcend race in a way that no one else did. I remember having the very hippie-ish delusion that Jimi represented the end of the racial divide.

jult52 said...

Plenty of talented artists produced innovative, highly expressive music without out-of-control drug use. Hendrix's decline after Axis: Bold as Love is tragic and unecessary and Ann is right to bemoan the tragedy of his death.

Dirty Harry said...

"Hendrix was an avowed anti-communist who exhibited little unease about the escalating US role in Vietnam."

I wonder if that removes the irony many hippies heard in his rendition of "The Star Spamgled Banner?"

I could never figure out how an artist could possibly 'not' oppose Communism until I met some filmmakers from a former Communist country still angry that the new Democratic government doesn't subsidize them as much as the old Communist one did.

Tyranny, censorship, murder, purges, gulags... whatever. Where's my check so I can make my pretentious movie?

Pancho said...

The real reason Jimi didn't go to Vietnam was not out of moral conviction, but because when Jimi was in the army, 1961-62 almost no one was going to Vietnam. The first larger scale troop deployments weren't until 1965. Most regular "grunts" had not even heard of Vietnam in '62.

As an airborne trooper, Jimi would have been more worried about going to the Dominican Republic.

Goesh said...

He wanted to enter cosmic consciousness like an ascending meteor, flaming and burning. There was a subtle rage to his music, an intensity of desire so deeply unfullfilled that when the focus of his guitar and the acid could not break the barrier, he took the next logical step. Please excuse the language I am about to use Ann, and I say this not out of any disrespect to anyone nor for cheap, shock value, but Jimi Hendrix wanted to fuck God.

StrangerInTheseParts said...

Hendrix was also possessed of a wildly unrelieable character. He documented it himself somewhat in the song Manic Depression. Others have filled in gaps in his public persona by coming forward about his rather hideous treatment of women, for example.

Yes, he was a candle that burned too bright but half as long. He was also, however, quite a devil and capable of great despicableness. His early death spares us contemplating too vividly his darker tendencies.

Kev said...

Miles Davis noted in his autobiography that he and Hendrix were slated to do an album together at the time of Jimi's death. And while that might have ended up as an overhyped superstar summit, it also might have changed music as we knew it...

Meade said...

Jimi's army records seem to indicate that his boyhood interest in the military waned once he got in it.