Sam Shepard, whose death at 73 last year shook the book and film work, will be remembered for his cross-discipline versatility. As a Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright, he penned classic off-Broadway plays including “True West,” “Buried Child” and “Fool for Love.”
An Oscar-nominated actor, he starred in films including “Days of Heaven,” “The Right Stuff,” “Crimes of the Heart” and “The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford.”
To fans of underground music, however, Shepard served a lesser-known role as the drummer for seminal New York avant-garde folk band the Holy Modal Rounders, with whom he performed on the crucial late 1960s albums “Indian War Whoop” and “The Moray Eels Eat the Holy Modal Rounders.”
The band is best known for its song “If You Want to Be a Bird,” which plays during the classic scene in “Easy Rider” in which Dennis Hopper, Peter Fonda and Jack Nicholson roar down the highway on their motorcycles. That’s Shepard playing drums as Rounders founders Peter Stampfel and Steve Weber whoop and yowl.