Writer Max Evans Reflects on the Colorful Sam Peckinpah With New Book

There’s perhaps no writer who more vividly and colorfully expresses New Mexico cowboy culture than Ol’ Max Evans, as just about everyone, including his wife, Pat, refers to him. A call to the Albuquerque home of the 88-year-old cowboy, miner, raconteur and author of “The Rounders,” “Hi Lo Country,” “The One-Eyed Sky” and other Southwest classics will usually get answered by Pat, who offers to “get Ol’ Max on the phone.”

One of Ol’ Max’s most colorful compadres was the late film director-writer Sam Peckinpah.

Not content with penning “Sam Peckinpah: Master of Violence,” his book about their adventures while Peckinpah was making “The Ballad of Cable Hogue,” Evans has completed “Goin’ Crazy With Sam Peckinpah and All Our Friends” with Robert Nott (U. of New Mexico Press).

The book is chockablock with wild and woolly tales, but according to Evans, the Peckinpah who regularly visited him in New Mexico “was a whole different human being” than the raucous, often dangerous Peckinpah of filmmaking lore. “We’d take a bottle and just drive way out… and sit and look at the land. It gave him great peace,” recalls Evans.

Peckinpah either made or set many of his classic Westerns in New Mexico, including “Pat Garrett & Billy the Kid” and “Major Dundee,” and he returned time and again for the state’s famed “enchantment.” “One of the folks who knew Sam best,” says Evans, “summed up it up when they said, ‘He was a son of a bitch but he had wondrous, tender moments.’ Sam’s eyes were literally black when you first looked at them. But there were many Sams behind his eyes.”

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