A Good Name - pt 4
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woohooligan Feb 3, 2016
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Hendrix is an interesting character. You wouldn't expect one of the most influential rock-guitarists of the free-love generation to have started out as a paratrooper, but he did... sort of. Actually he started out stealing cars in Seattle. :P Or at least, he was caught "riding in" stolen cars in Seattle on multiple occasions. In court, a judge offered him a choice between prison or the army and Hendrix chose the Army, who placed him with the 101st Airborne division. He stayed in the Army long enough to do two things: finish jump school and start a rock band on base. :P

Good news! We're ahead of our goal in January!

Hendrix really did have a love-affair with his music that started very early on. Much like I started drawing in 3rd grade, Hendrix could be seen for several years in elementary school air-guitaring with a small broom. Legend has it that he clung to the broom so much, the school social worker tried to convince his father Al that Jimi would be scarred for life if someone didn't buy him a guitar. :P

This is the sort of thing that I think most of us look at and think "oh, that's cute, but it's a phase." After all, my daughter Calli was absolutely infatuated with dinosaurs when she was about that age and dead-set on being a paleontologist. Now it's art and animation. :D That wasn't the case with Hendrix though. He started learning on his own with a busted ukulele, playing along while listening to Elvis LPs in 1957. Bought his first acoustic guitar for $5 the next year and started his first band, the Velvetones.

So when you know the whole story, it's not so surprising that "bad boy" Hendrix had this odd intermission in his early years in which he was a poor soldier. For him, jumping out of airplanes was just a distraction from the music that he loved, in sort of the way that software engineering has been a distraction to me from comedy in the last few years. He even started another rock band on the base before his discharge.

There are two other things that bear mentioning here.

First, Jimi wasn't Hendrix' given name, it was Johnny Allen Hendrix. Unlike other characters in this story however (Ayn Rand, Mark Twain, Freddie Mercury) Hendrix didn't change his name. When he was four years old, his parents changed his name to James Marshall Hendrix in honor of his still living father (James "Al" Allen) and a younger brother (Leon Marshall), who had already died in infancy. I mention this merely because so many of the characters in this story have had name changes, albeit usually by choice. I myself have been through a couple of nicknames and name changes, as have my father, my sister and my niece. The funny thing is, I don't go looking for characters who've changed their names, it's just turning out that way. I find a historical figure I'd like to show in hell and then I realize after the fact that they had a name change. :P

For the record, I stared as S. Japheth Isaac Dealey. No I will not tell you what the "S" stands for because it's a matter of national security and if I told you, I would then have to kill you. :P (Or if you're a fan of Lord of the Rings, "it is in the language of Mordor which I will not utter here.") And don't bother trying to pronounce Japheth, you're gonna fail, and you might suffer some internal injuries in the process. In my early twenties, I started using Isaac, which got the nickname "ike" (phonetically short for Isaac") in addition to a variety of other nicknames I've had over the years. It was nice to finally have a name that people could pronounce without a trip to the ER, however, I soon discovered that no one can spell "Isaac". It's the weirdest thing, everyone insists they know how to spell it -- they're aware that there's a double letter in it, but even when it's printed on paper directly in front of their eyes, they immediately proceed to double the S instead of the A. That's right, issssss-ACK! Yeah, sure, I'm a parseltongue... or a sleestack, take your pick. So when I finalized my divorce a few years ago, the attorney told me I could save a little cash on a name change if I changed it during the divorce, so I officially changed to "Samuel Isaac Dealey." I kept Isaac because it means "laughter", but I don't introduce myself with it anymore. And now I'm happy. :D

Secondly, there's a bit of disagreement about the Army's reason for discharging Hendrix immediately after he finished jump school. According to one biography, it seems claiming to be gay in '62 probably saved him from the war in Vietnam (Kennedy had just been elected in '61 and was pumping a lot more troops into the war). Once out of the service, I'm sure Hendrix didn't want the stigma that was then (and in many places still now) associated with being gay, but he obviously couldn't tell people publicly that he'd lied to the base psychologist. So during the height of his career, dressed in a variety of elaborate outfits and pimp-hats, Jimi always insisted he broke his ankle on a jump.

Thank you for reading! Please do consider helping me out, because if you've read this far you're obviously enjoying the story! :D You don't have to pledge to the Patreon, there are a ton of ways you can help from sharing to writing reviews. :D

Stay awesome, Hooligans!


P.s. My friend Russel Nohelty (who actually is a parseltongue!) is publishing a black-comedy novel titled My Father Didn't Kill Himself. Check it out!

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