Billy Joel Led The Campaign For Warren Zevon’s First Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame Nomination

Billy Joel Led The Campaign For Warren Zevon’s First Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame Nomination

The late, great singer-songwriter Warren Zevon is among this year’s nominees for the Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame. Zevon died in 2003, and he’s been eligible for the Rock Hall since 1994, but he’s never been nominated until now. That may be partially because Rolling Stone founder Jann Wenner, who co-founded the Hall and served as chairman of the Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame Foundation until 2020, famously held a grudge against Zevon. But other Wenner foes such as Rush have been inducted since he stepped down, so maybe Zevon has a shot.

It appears we have Billy Joel to thank that Zevon is nominated at all. A new Los Angeles Times feature about a recent influx of attention for Zevon’s work reveals that Joel wrote a letter to the nominating committee urging them to include Zevon on this year’s ballot. Joel has apparently written similar letters on behalf of Joe Cocker and Cyndi Lauper, who is also a first-time nominee this year.

“I just wanted to put in my two cents of supporting Warren Zevon to be included,” Joel told the LAT, praising Zevon’s “primal” approach to music. “If anyone deserved to be, he did. He was a real original, and I don’t know if that’s appreciated enough.” He also shared his memories of seeing Zevon perform at a club near Philadelphia in the late ’70s: “The first minute I saw him, I was knocked out. He was like the crazy brother I never had. He was fearless, and it stuck with me. I never thought he got the attention he deserved.”

More from Joel on Zevon:

Well, he was a piano player, and we all tend to get lumped into this thing of “They’re not real rock guys” — which I don’t think is fair, but I understand why it happens. Piano is perceived to be this middle-of-the-road instrument only played by dorks. But when I saw Warren, he was kind of breaking the piano to pieces, little by little, which I thought was an interesting style.

Adding that he “downed a lot of vodka” with Zevon after that show while swapping stories about playing on whatever crappy piano nightclubs had on hand, Joel continued, “Piano is actually a percussion instrument. Most people think it’s a stringed instrument, but you play it like a drum. And Warren, he really fulfilled that role. He banged it, and he banged it good. Even without amplifiers, he was getting the most volume he could get out of that thing.”

Adam Granduciel and Craig Finn must be thrilled. Revisit our anniversary feature on Zevon’s 2000 album Life’ll Kill Ya.

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