Billy Joel was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 1999. Since then, he’s tried to use his influence to help other artists get their due. The artist he’s been pushing for lately is Warren Zevon.
Zevon is a beloved singer-songwriter that somehow hasn’t even been nominated for the Rock Hall, and he’s been eligible since 1994. He famously recorded his final album, 2003’s The Wind, in response to receiving his diagnosis of pleural mesothelioma, a type of cancer often caused by asbestos exposure. He also boldly refused treatment for cancer. The making of the album was chronicled by VH1 in the documentary Inside Out: Warren Zevon.
Joel told the Los Angeles Times he wrote a letter to the nominating committee to consider Zevon. (The outlet notes Joel had previously written letters to the Rock Hall nominating committee in support of Joe Cocker and Cyndi Lauper.) “I just wanted to put in my two cents of supporting Warren Zevon to be included,” said Joel. “If anyone deserves to be he does. He was a real original, and I don’t know if that’s appreciated enough.”
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Joel added, “The first time 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.”
Like Joel, Zevon was a pianist. In reference to his playing, Joel said, “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.”
The Rock Hall will announce the nominees for its 2023 induction class tomorrow (February 1.) If Zevon is nominated, discussions around his catalog and impact will be one of many hot topics until this year’s class is announced. If he doesn’t get enough votes for induction, Joel will likely be on a short list of people to induct and/or perform in tribute.