Primarily known as an actor (Bloodline, Mud, Cold in July, Days of Heaven, The Right Stuff, for which he was nominated for an Academy Award for his embodiment of test pilot cool) and playwright (True West, Buried Child, for which he won the Pulitzer Prize, Fool for Love, for which he won one of his many Obie Awards), Sam Shepard had a long relationship with rock ‘n’ roll. He sometimes played drums and/or percussion for the lower east side 1960s New York psychedelic folk band Holy Modal Rounders, here featured in Easy Rider:
In the early ’70s, he collaborated with Patti Smith on the play Cowboy Mouth. Their relationship is featured prominently in her National Book Award winning memoir Just Kids.
Nominally, the playwright co-wrote the largely improvised film Renaldo and Clara shot by Bob Dylan during his 1975-1976 Rolling Thunder Revue. Shepard also published The Rolling Thunder Logbook chronicling his experience of the tour. A decade later, Shepard co-wrote a song with Dylan:
In 2007, Shepard again collaborated with Patti Smith, playing banjo on her cover of Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit”: