Today would have been beloved singer-songwriter Warren Zevon’s birthday. The multi-talented vocalist, musician, composer, lyricist and producer was just 56 when mesothelioma lung cancer took his life in September 2003.
The idiosyncratic Zevon was a musician’s musician, influencing and collaborating with countless fellow recording artists while carving out his successful career. On what would have been Warren’s 70th birthday today, here’s a look back at five recordings featuring the late performer alongside other legends of rock.
Perhaps Zevon’s most well-known song, “Werewolves Of London” was recorded and released on his 1978 album Excitable Boy. What’s notable about this particular track is the inclusion of the Fleetwood Mac rhythm section of Mick Fleetwood on drums and John McVie on bass. The notoriously debaucherous session also included guitarist Waddy Wachtel, give the classic track another listen here:
Singer-songwriter Jackson Browne co-produced Excitable Boy and often performed with Zevon. In the video below Warren sits-in with Jackson during a taping of the BBC’s The Old Grey Whistle Test from December 1976. The clip features Zevon leading Browne and his band on “Mohammed’s Radio” off the 1976 Warren Zevon LP, watch:
Zevon employed a number of impressive musical talents for his 1989 LP Transverse City including Neil Young, Jack Casady, Jorma Kaukonen, Chick Corea, Benmont Tench, Mike Campbell and others. Two of the tracks on the album featured Grateful Dead guitarist Jerry Garcia, including “They Moved the Moon” and the title track, the latter of which can be heard below:
In 1995 Zevon released the studio album Mutineer that included “Piano Fighter” among its 10 tracks. That’s none other than Bruce Hornsby providing the accordion on the Zevon original. Bruce can also be heard on the Mutineer cut “Monkey Wash Donkey Rinse,” check out “Piano Fighter” here:
For his 2003 album The Wind, Zevon once again recruited a group of wildly talented musicians to record what became his final record. Emmylou Harris, Tom Petty, Ry Cooder, Don Henley, Joe Walsh, Dwight Yoakam and Mick Fleetwood were just a few who contributed to the swan song LP. The album track “Disorder In The House” featured longtime collaborator Jorge Calderón, renowned session drummer Jim Keltner and electric guitar provided by Bruce Springsteen. Here’s video of the recording process featuring The Boss and Zevon together: