Thursday, January 16, 2014

Ask Mr. Music by Jerry Osborne


DEAR JERRY: When I read how Jackie Wilson's big break came because Billy Ward's Dominoes needed him to replace their lead singer, Clyde McPhatter, who was drafted, it got me thinking.

As an active duty veteran myself, I would like to know of other recording artists who somehow served this country, as many as you can come up with.

I have exhausted all the different ways there are to research this topic, including the web sites for the different branches of service, and there is very little info to be had.
—Nate Collingsworth, San Francisco

DEAR NATE: There is at least one other vet who is on the same frequency as you. Steve Lee, of Washington, Ind., asks essentially the same question.

As you have learned, other than finding a smattering of names, mostly celebrities from numerous walks of life, no one attempts to be comprehensive regarding musicians.

We will do it, starting right now.

That one of the most time-consuming lists we've ever prepared is one for you guys, and all the other music-loving veterans, makes it time well spent.

For openers, we have identified over 100 famous recording artists who served the military in some capacity. Most are musicians (singers and instrumentalists) but you will find a few whose niche was the spoken word, such as comedians or narrators. Each of these men made records during the 20th century. Not included are lesser-known session players or group members, other than a front man or a lead singer.

Here are the initialisms indicating which branch of the service applies:

ARNG (Army Reserve National Guard)
USA (U.S. Army)
USAAC (U.S. Army Air Corps)
USAAF (U.S. Army Air Force)
USAF (U.S. Air Force)
USCG (U.S. Coast Guard)
USMC (U.S. Marine Corps)
USMM (U.S. Merchant Marines)
USN (U.S. Navy)

Alphabetically listed, the vets are:

Julian "Cannonball" Adderley (USA)
Ray Anthony (USA)
Gene Autry (USA)
Roy Ayers (USA)
Bobby Bare (USA)
Harry Belafonte (USN)
Tony Bennett (USA)
Bobby "Blue" Bland (USA)
Jim Ed Brown (USA)
Oscar Brown Jr. (USA)
Lenny Bruce (USN)
George Carlin (USAF)
Johnny Cash (USAF)
Jerry Clower (USN)
John Coltrane (USN)
Bill Cosby (USN)
Warren Covington (USCG)
Johnny Crawford (USA)
Jim Croce (ARNG)
Terrence Trent D'Arby (USA)
Sammy Davis Jr. (USA)
Clint Eastwood (USA)
Buddy Ebsen (USCG)
Essex (USMC) (All five members were Marines: Anita Humes; Walter Vickers; Rodney Taylor; Billy Hill; and Rudolph Johnson)
Don Everly (USMC)
Phil Everly (USMC)
Eddie Fisher (USA)
John Fogerty (USA)
Jerry Garcia (USA)
Marvin Gaye (USAF)
George Gobel (USAAF)
Arthur Godfrey (USCG)
Dick Gregory (USA)
Roosevelt Grier (USA)
Vince Guaraldi (USA)
Tom T. Hall (USA)
Freddie Hart (USMC)
Hawkshaw Hawkins (USA)
Jimi Hendrix (USA)
Howlin' Wolf (USA)
Tab Hunter (USCG)
Ferlin Husky (USMM)
Ice-T (USA)
Burl Ives (USA)
Stonewall Jackson (USA)
Sonny James (USA)
George Jones (USMC)
Jack Kerouac (USN)
B.B. King (USA)
Buddy Knox (USA)
Kris Kristofferson (USAAC)
Gary Lewis (USA)
Frankie Lymon (USA)
Henry Mancini (USA)
MC Hammer (USN)
Clyde McPhatter (USA)
Glenn Miller (USA)
Guy Mitchell (USN)
Art Mooney (USA)
Scotty Moore (USA)
Willie Nelson (USAF)
Leonard Nimoy (USA)
Donald O'Connor (USA)
Fess Parker (USN/USMC)
Elvis Presley (USA)
Kenny Price (USA)
Ray Price (USMC)
Charley Pride (USA)
Richard Pryor (USA)
Boots Randolph (USA)
Lou Rawls (USA)
Charlie Rich (USAF)
Marty Robbins (USN)
Nipsey Russell (USA)
SSgt Barry Sadler (USA)
Mort Sahl (USAF)
Soupy Sales (USN)
Shaggy (USMC)
Artie Shaw (USN)
Wayne Shorter (USA)
Jimmy Smith (USN)
Hank Thompson (USN)
Mel Tillis (USAF)
Johnny Tillotson (ARNG)
Mel Torme (USCG)
Stanley Turrentine (USA)
Conway Twitty (USA)
Rudy Vallee (USCG)
Leroy Van Dyke (USA)
Bobby Vinton (USA)
Tom Waits (USCG)
Grover Washington Jr. (USA)
Flip Wilson (USAF)
Kai Winding (USCG)
Jonathan Winters (USMC)
Bill Withers (USN)
Faron Young (USA)
Lester Young (USA)

As we learn of other vets who belong on this list, they will be added.

IZ ZAT SO? Here is how the 103 names are divided among the nine possible employers:

54: USA (Army)
16: USN (Navy)
13: USMC (Marine Corps)
8: USCG (Coast Guard)
8: USAF (Air Force)
2: ARNG (Army Reserve National Guard)
1: USMM (Merchant Marines)
1: USAAF (Army Air Force)
1: USAAC (Army Air Corps)

Oh yeah, I can't say it's never happened before, but it is extremely rare for there to be a week when this column does not mention a single song title. This week is one of those.

Jerry Osborne answers as many questions as possible through this column.  Write Jerry at: Box 255, Port Townsend, WA 98368  E-mail:   Visit his Web site:

All values quoted in this column are for near-mint condition. 

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