"Enjoy Every Sandwich" - the Life and Times of Warren Zevon
Warren William Zevon, perhaps best known for his hit song "Werewolves of London" was one of the victims of mesothelioma
. And he never really knew how he acquired this asbestos-related disease.Zevon was an American rock singer, songwriter, and musician who had a sardonic sense of humor. He was born in Chicago, Illinois on January 21947.For a brief time after his family moved to Fresno, California he occasionally visited the home of Igor Stravinsky where he studied modern classical music. After his parents divorced he dropped out of high school and moved to NYC to become a folk singer. He was sixteen years old at the time.One of his early compositions, "He Quit Me," became part of the soundtrack for "Midnight Cowboy," a 1969 film starring Dustin Hoffman, Jon Voight, and Sylvia Miles.. His first solo album, "Wanted Dead or Alive", was cut in 1969. However it didn't sell very well.The 1970s were a bit tough on Zevon. Although he regularly toured with the Everly Brothers and recorded a second album, "Leaf in the Wind", he felt his career was going nowhere. His pockets were getting empty so he packed up and moved to Spain in 1975. While there he played in a small tavern near Barcelona that was owned by a former mercenary, David Lindell.It was there that the two composed Zevon's classic song, "Roland the Headless Thompson Gunner."By September of the same year Zevon was back in LA, where he became a roommate of Stevie Nicks and Lindsey Buckingham, before Fleetwood Mac became a household name. Collaborating with Jackson Browne, Zevon made his major record company debut - "Warren Zevon" - in 1976.Although the album initially saw only modestly success, the first edition of "The Rolling Stone Record Guide" later called it a masterpiece.Then, in 1978, Zevon released "Excitable Boy". The album contained what would become a hit single - "Werewolves of London."The title song was about the murderous prom night of a young sociopath. You'll also find "Roland the Headless Thompson Gunner" and "Lawyers, Guns and Money" on that album.Several albums followed over the next few years but none of them attained any significant commercial success.Zevon was in and out of marriages and relationships through the 1980s. In 1984, after reading a column in Rolling Stone he found out that his record company ended their relationship. He then relapsed into alcoholism. Shortly thereafter he voluntarily checked himself into a rehab clinic.Out of the record business for a number of years, he finally overcame his addictions.From 1982 through 2001 Zevon filled in as the bandleader on "Late Night with David Letterman" and then the "Late Show with David Letterman."In 1987 Zevon was back recording music.But it wasn't until the 2000 release of "Life'll Kill Ya" that Zevon finally bounced back with an album that had reasonable sales and great critical acclaim.Other parts of life were soon to catch up with him. You see, Warren Zevon seldom went for medical assessments because of his lifelong phobia of doctors.In 2002, shortly before he was about to perform at the Edmonton Folk Music Festival, he began to feel dizzy and developed a chronic cough.Still, he refused to be treated for the pain he suffered. Finally his dentist convinced him to see a doctor.Zevon was diagnosed with inoperable mesothelioma. Mesothelioma is an asbestosrelated disease. Zevon had no idea how he contracted it.He refused to be treated because he believed that it could incapacitate him.Instead, he began to record his last album, "The Wind." The album includes guest appearances by many of his close friends, such as Jackson Browne, Don Henley, David Lindley, Emmylou Harris, Tom Petty, Timothy B. Schmit, Bruce Springsteen, Billy Bob Thornton, and Dwight Yoakam.He decided to include "Knockin' On Heaven's Door" on the album, much to the dismay of the other singers. It is said that when he recorded the song the studio was brought to tears.Then, on October 30, 2002, Zevon made his final appearance on "The Late Show with David Letterman." He was the show's only guest that night.As his introduction the band played one of his songs, "I'll Sleep When I'm Dead."While on the show Zevon said, "I may have made a tactical error in not going to a physician for 20 years."When Letterman asked him if he knew more about life and death now, Zevon gave his insight on dying. He said, "Enjoy every sandwich."He thanked Letterman for his help over the years and called him "the best friend my music's ever had." Letterman requested the last song of the evening.For his final public performance, Warren Zevon sang "Roland the Headless Thompson Gunner."After the show ended Zevon gave Letterman the guitar that he always played on his show. The only thing he said about it was, "Here, I want you to have this, take good care of it."His last album, "The Wind", was released in June 2003 and reached number 16 on the US charts. It had the most sales of any of his albums since "Excitable Boy."On September 7, 2003, Warren Zevon died from mesotheliioma in his home in Los Angeles, California.If you or someone you love is suffering or has suffered from mesothelioma - or other asbestos related diseases - you may be entitle to a settlement.
"Enjoy Every Sandwich" - the Life and Times of Warren Zevon
By: Wendy Moyer
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