Harry Dean Stanton, a craggy-featured character actor whose face is more familiar than his name to many audiences, is equally adept at playing bad guys or more heroic characters. In addition to his numerous acting roles, he has long led his own musical group, the Harry Dean Stanton Band, which was formerly known as Harry Dean Stanton and the Repo Men. The outfit isn't a vanity group, one designed merely to back an actor who plays at making music, but rather a serious endeavor. Through the years, guitar player and vocalist Stanton has performed with numerous big-league artists, including Bob Dylan and Bing Crosby. He frequently plays in and around Los Angeles, often at a spot called Jack's Sugar Shack, and his audiences continuously include other musicians and singers, among them Chaka Khan, Ringo Starr, and Bono.
Stanton, a native of Kentucky, joined the U.S. Navy in the 1940s and served in Okinawa. Following his discharge he entered the University of Kentucky, where he became a drama student. He later settled in Los Angeles and joined the Pasadena Playhouse. He debuted in movies in 1950 and continued acting in small roles for more than a decade. Larger roles came along in the 1970s with Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid, Alien, and other movies. In 1983 he appeared in Paris, Texas, a Wim Wenders film. He also appears on the film's soundtrack from Ry Cooder, singing a haunting Mexicali waltz entirely in Spanish and delivering an almost nine-minute monologue in "I Knew These People." In addition, Stanton also appears on the cast recording for Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. Farm Dogs, a band led by Bernie Taupin, pays tribute to Stanton with the song "The Ballad of Dennis Hopper & Harry Dean," which is featured on Last Stand in Open Country, the band's first album. ~ Linda Seida, Rovi