Sam Shepard was primarily known, and rightly so, as a major playwright and actor. He was also -- if only briefly -- a rock musician, and had some interesting associations with major rock performers. He was a drummer in the Holy Modal Rounders for their third album, the crazed, cacophonous Indian War Whoop on ESP in 1967. Holy Modal Rounders mainstay Peter Stampfel has recalled that Shepard is not on the LP's cover shot because Shepard, as a statement against the hippie era, had gotten a crewcut at the height of the summer of love. ESP owner Bernard Stollman thus would not put him on the sleeve, as it was the wrong haircut for the band's image. Stampfel has also said that at one point, when the sessions for the second (and never-completed) Holy Modal Rounders album on Elektra were running into trouble, he was told that the record would be recorded only if Shepard composed an LP-length musical comedy piece for the band. That project was never fulfilled.

Shepard had an affair with Patti Smith in the early '70s, years before she became a recording artist, and the two co-wrote a play, Cowboy Mouth, in which Smith acted. Shepard also did some writing for Bob Dylan's ill-fated documentary cum fictionalized reality movie Renaldo and Clara, and co-wrote a song with Dylan, "Brownsville Girl," on Dylan's Knocked Out Loaded album. ~ Richie Unterberger, Rovi

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