As a man who would eventually become an artist's artists and known as one of the most clever and satirical songwriters of his time, Warren Zevon's career and life came from interesting and difficult beginnings. Zevon was born in Chicago in 1947, but because his father was a professional gambler, his family never stayed in one place for long. Shortly after his parents divorced, Zevon, then 16, left to New York to become a folk singer. Lack of success in the Big Apple drove Zevon to California where he released his first recordings as part of the band Lyme & Cybelle.
To get by, Zevon soon became a session musician, slowly working towards his first solo album, which came in 1969 with Wanted Dead or Alive. Unfortunately, Zevon's debut fell flat commercially, and he returned to session work, supplemented by composing jingles for marketing campaigns and a brief stint as the Everly Brothers' pianist. Frustrated with the direction his career was headed, Zevon moved to Spain in the summer of '75 where he would compose "Roland the Headless Thompson Gunner", a song that would later become a hit. Upon returning to LA, Warren Zevon fell in with some of the more influential musicians of the era, and in 1976, Jackson Browne helped him sign to a major label and produce his self-titled album, which also included contributions from Stevie Nicks, Lindsey Buckingham, Bonnie Raitt, Linda Ronstadt, and members of the Eagles. While the album didn't see much commercial success, it was hailed as a critical achievement, which gave Zevon a reputation to build on.
Mainstream appeal hit in 1978 with the release of Excitable Boy, a record that cemented Zevon as a unique talent and gave him hit singles with the title track and "Werewolves of London." Sadly, Zevon's alcohol abuse at the end of the decade put a halt on his career. After a long period of recovery and counseling, Zevon, now sober, released Sentimental Hygiene. Zevon continued his comeback through the '80s and '90s with several albums and various tours.
Tragically, in 2002 Zevon was diagnosed with inoperable mesothelioma. Although faced with his mortality, Zevon prepared to record his final album. Having built a fan-base and friendships amongst the music community, The Wind featured artists like Bruce Springsteen, Don Henley, Jackson Browne, Joe Walsh, Tom Petty, Dwight Yokam, and Emmylou Harris. Always a fighter, Zevon lived beyond the doctors' expectations and was able to see the birth of his twin grandsons, as well as the release of The Wind. Warren Zevon past away in September of 2003; he was 56.