Acerbic singer/songwriter Warren Zevon has been diagnosed with an advanced,
untreatable case of lung cancer. The 55-year-old "Werewolves of London"
singer learned of the diagnosis in August and has perhaps as little as two
months left to live, according to his spokesperson.
"I'm okay with it, but it'll be a drag if I don't make it till the next James
Bond movie comes out," Zevon said in a typically dark official statement. The
Chicago-born singer, who quit a lifelong smoking habit eight years ago, has
split his time since the diagnosis between hanging out with his two adult
children and recording as many songs as he can.
Zevon's most recent album, 2002's My Ride's Here, was highlighted by
collaborations with his literary friend and fishing pal, Carl
Hiaasen, as well as contributions from writers Paul Muldoon, Mitch Albom and
Hunter S. Thompson and backing vocals from TV host David Letterman, who shouts encouragement on the song "Hit Somebody! (The Hockey Song)." His
previous album, 2000's Life'll Kill Ya, which, like many of his
releases, featured Zevon's signature logo — a skull with a cigarette
dangling from its mouth — ended with the somber ballad "Don't Let Us Get
On that track, Zevon sings, "Don't let us get sick/ Don't let us get old/ Don't let
us get stupid, all right?/ Just make us brave."
Zevon's first album, Wanted Dead or Alive, was released in 1969 and it
was followed by a self-titled album in l976, produced by Jackson Browne.
Excitable Boy, released in 1978, got Zevon on the mainstream map with his most
popular song, "Werewolves of London." Like so many of Zevon's most beloved
tunes ("Excitable Boy," "Play It All Night Long," "Lawyers, Guns and Money,"
"Poor, Poor Pitiful Me"), "Werewolves" showcased the singer's mix of cynicism,
literary knowledge and dark, satirical humor.
After a period of inactivity due to treatment for alcoholism, Zevon recorded
an album with the members of R.E.M. in 1987, Sentimental Hygiene, with
another set from those same sessions released three years later under the
name Hindu Love Gods. After 1995's poorly received Mutineer, the
singer took nearly five years off before releasing Life'll Kill Ya.
Zevon was slated to perform on Letterman's show in October to promote the
upcoming 22-track Rhino Records career retrospective, Genius: The Best of
Warren Zevon, due October 15, but it is unknown if he will be able to make the
appearance due to the state of his health.