When it comes to our favorite musicians, it often seems like we know them inside and out. We analyze the meanings in their lyrics, pore over their interviews, and connect with their souls while listening to their songs. But what’s illuminated in the limelight never shows the whole picture.
The antics, accidental stage dives, and autobiographical lyrics of singer-songwriter Warren Zevon told fans a story—but certainly not the whole story. Here are seven little-known facts about the Excitable Boy.
- Rock star roommates
Before they got big, Warren lived with Fleetwood Mac stars Stevie Nicks and Lindsay Buckingham in the 1970s. The two also appeared, along with Mick Fleetwood, on Zevon’s 1976 self-titled album.
- Suddenly a sitcom star
Warren had a 2-episode cameo stint alongside Rick Springfield on the 90s sitcom Suddenly Susan.
- “Don’t Let Us Get Sick”
Warren was diagnosed with pleural mesothelioma, a cancer caused by exposure to asbestos. It’s never been clear where Warren was exposed—it could have been on a job in his younger years, in his dad’s Arizona carpet shop, or a number of other ways. The reality of asbestos is that it’s everywhere—in our homes, furniture, and sidewalk—so exposure can happen anywhere, unless you know how to protect yourself.
- Posthumous praise
Warren’s only Grammy awards of his 30-year career came after his death. His final album, The Wind, won best Contemporary Folk Album at the 2004 Grammy awards, and “Disorder in the House,” a duet with Bruce Springsteen from the album, called won Best Rock Performance by a Duo or Rock Group. Warren’s son Jordan received the awards for his father.
- “Enjoy every sandwich”
Warren’s oft-quoted philosophy on life and death was first offered in his final of many appearances on The Late Show with David Letterman in October 2002. Warren was the only guest for that hour-long program and spoke at length about his experience with mesothelioma.
- Keeping him in our hearts
Every year, Warren’s son Jordan honors his dad’s legacy by choosing a fellow mesothelioma victim or ally to honor with the “Keep Me in Your Heart” Memorial Tribute Award, named after a song Warren wrote about his struggle with the deadly disease. Past recipients include legendary actor Steve McQueen and Roy Cyrus, father to country singer Billy Ray Cyrus and grandfather to pop star Miley Cyrus.
Since Warren’s death, Jordan Zevon has become the national spokesperson for the Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization (ADAO), which is dedicated to ending asbestos exposure and asbestos-caused diseases like the one that claimed Warren's life. Jordan is hosting a benefit at Mr. Musichead Gallery in Hollywood on July 7 to honor his dad, boost awareness of asbestos-related illnesses, and benefit ADAO. Tickets for the event, which will feature live music, a photo exhibit, and a charity auction of memorabilia, are available through Eventbrite.
I can only imagine if Warren Zevon knew asbestos imports continued today, I’m sure he would belt out “Lawyers, Guns, and Money” at the top of his lungs to end the man-made asbestos disaster.
Lawyers, Guns, and Photos is a one-night-only event taking place July 7, 2016 from 7-10 p.m. at Mr. Musichead Gallery located at 7420 Sunset Blvd. in Hollywood. General admission tickets $20; VIP All-Access Passes $100.