Put Warren Zevon in the HOF NOW

by Kidman J. Williams

Warren Zevon was born in Chicago, Illinois on January 24th, 1947. He left us on September 7th 2003 and he still hasn’t been inducted into the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame?!? For Christ’s love child’s sake, Darlene Love, Gene Pitney, and The Paul Butterfield Blues Band, but not the classically trained, master storyteller, and untiring/unwavering maverick Warren Zevon?!?

The Shadows of Knight (known as the Godfathers of American Garage Rock) deserve a slot more than Butterfield. The Paul Butterfield Blues Band wasn’t even good enough at Woodstock to be included into the film. But they got a HOF spot over Warren “Fucking” Zevon? Not even advanced cancer was able to stop Zevon from recording his Grammy award winning album The Wind.

Here we are, nearly twenty years after this troubled legend’s passing and he is FINALLY nominated. He is nominated with many others. Some of those artists on the 2023 nomination list are Cyndi Lauper, George Michael, and Soundgarden. Once again they are trying to co-op a few like Willie Nelson, A Tribe Called Quest, and even Missy Elliott.

What does it all mean?

It doesn’t mean that he is in… no, no snots and signoras (that is for our Italian readers, it means ladies in Italian). He is nominated and up for fan voting. The fan voting is calculated and taken into consideration. The real voters put their bids in and they seemingly place whoever the Hell they feel like into the HOF. After all, you can’t forget the fan vote snubbing of DEVO, The New York Dolls and Rage Against the Machine for people that weren’t even on the nomination voting list.

The last ceremony for the HOF saw Pat Benatar, Duran Duran, Eminem, Eurythmics, Dolly Parton, Lionel Richie, Judas Priest, Harry Belafonte, and Carly Simon; it also included many lesser knowns like Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis, Jimmy Lovine, Sylvia Robinson, Elizabeth Cotten and Allen Grubman. I mean no offence to Dolly Parton and Eminem when I say this, but they aren’t even Rock ‘n’ Roll! An offence is meant when I say, Duran Duran were just New Wave pop drivel and Annie Lennox was known more for her eccentric fashion sense and buzz cut hair than good music.

Zevon not being inducted into the HOF is as criminal as Hank Williams not being reinstated into the Grand Ole Opry.

Who Locked the Gate?

How is it that Zevon hasn’t been nominated until now? We all know that if you have that magnitude of talent and record sales you had to have provoked some sovereign gatekeeper on a power trip that rivals the Old Testament kings and politicians.

It is no secret now that those two gatekeepers were Jann Wenner and Bob Krasnow. Whether they will admit to it or not; both were co-founders of the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame. Both these men had bad blood with Zevon.

The torrid story between Wenner and Zevon really starts and ends with Zevon’s well-known alcohol abuse. It was an issue that plagued Zevon on and off throughout his career. A problem that he owned up to on many occasions. It is widely known that Wenner was disgusted by Zevon’s excess when they first met backstage in 1978 at a Springsteen concert. All confirmed in C.M. Kushins’ book. That led to Wenner’s alleged banning of Zevon on the cover page of Rolling Stone Magazine.

I always found this funny considering the mass amounts of druggie alcoholic wife beaters (Chris Brown, Motley Crue) that Wenner did allow in the pages and on the covers of his now overhyped magazine. It is even worse than ever now that Jay Penske and Penske Media own the property.

Zevon finally did bless the cover in 1981. You know, when Rolling Stone was still relevant and not just a relic riding a name brand. Paul Nelson wrote “The Crackup and Resurrection of Warren Zevon.” It was a classic where Zevon was quoted as saying that alcoholism is “a real coward’s death.” The funny thing about the article is that it ended Nelson’s tenure at the high-profile magazine. The cover depicted Zevon being, more or less, drawn and quartered by human hands as he lied nearly lifeless.

That was the last time Wenner allowed Zevon to grace the cover of his beloved Rolling Stone. Even in the wake of Zevon’s death, and a triumphant last album he still wasn’t on the cover. David Fricke wrote a very nice, but simple tribute after he passed entitled, “Warren Zevon: A Tribute.”

Over the decades, many people have tried to get Zevon nominated. People like Jackson Browne, David Letterman, and I’m sure there were even more. Springsteen wrote a tribute song to his long-time troubled friend after his death. Browne has gone on record stating that he should be put into the HOF. Longtime buddy of Zevon’s, David Letterman delivered a touching speech during his induction of Pearl Jam in 2017. He wished that he could return for the induction of Zevon. Later in 2017, Letterman was awarded the Mark Twain Prize. During the show Eddie Vedder played the always tear inducing “Keep Me In Your Heart” from Zevon’s last album The Wind. There have been numerous articles and videos on the subject, including my own now.

Maybe his induction will be like the JFK files and we will all have to wait until the parties involved are finally dead in the ground? All this makes me wonder if Krasnow had something written in his will preventing the excitable boy from ever gracing the halls of the great institution. Time will tell on that one.

It may not be an irrefutable fact that Wenner and Krasnow worked their dark influences to keep this genius out of the HOF. Sometimes the facts are so glaring you have to ask yourself, does the Pope shit in the woods?

All I know is that if bands like Good Charlotte, Sum 41, and the Backstreet Boys get into the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame before Warren Zevon, I’m going to make a pissing pilgrimage to relieve myself on Bob Krasnow’s grave. If Jann Wenner is dead by that time, he is getting the brown eyed poo poo platter. Don’t worry, I’ll take pictures and write a follow up piece.

Zevon may not have lived in peace, but he tackled his death with dignity, a sharp sense of humor, and he was adorned and decorated with the light of grace… whether he liked it or not. He was gifted with a commanding voice and talent that goes beyond the Beyonces, Kanyes, and Billie Eilishes of this injudicious planet. Zevon’s superpower… when he was truly at his best was honesty. Nobody tackled honesty in song with more humility, emotion, and humor than Warren Zevon.

It is time to reintroduce Zevon to the world with a heartfelt induction that would make his family, friends, and fans proud.