File this one under “Don’t Axe, Don’t Tell.”
From the Associated Press’ Gene Johnson :
Jimi Hendrix might have stayed in the Army. He might have been sent to Vietnam. Instead, he pretended he was gay. And with that, he was discharged from the 101st Airborne in 1962, launching a musical career that would redefine the guitar, leave other rock heroes of the day speechless and culminate with his headlining performance of “The Star-Spangled Banner” at Woodstock in 1969.
Hendrix’s subterfuge, contained in his military medical records, is revealed for the first time in Charles R. Cross’ new biography, “Room Full of Mirrors.” Publicly, Hendrix (above) always claimed he was discharged after breaking his ankle on a parachute jump, but his medical records do not mention such an injury.
In regular visits to the base psychiatrist at Fort Campbell, Ky., in spring 1962, Hendrix complained that he was in love with one of his squad mates and that he had become addicted to masturbating, Cross writes. Finally, Capt. John Halbert recommended him for discharge, citing his “homosexual tendencies.”
Hendrix’s legendary appetite for women negates the notion that he might have been gay, Cross writes. Nor, Cross says, was his stunt politically motivated: Contrary to his later image, Hendrix was an avowed anti-communist who exhibited little unease about the escalating U.S. role in Vietnam.