A glimpse into Warren Zevon’s difficult last days: ‘It was very sad for all of us’

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Warren Zevon had long overcome his problem with alcohol, until being diagnosed with inoperable peritoneal mesothelioma. After that, ex-wife Crystal says, the mastermind behind 1978’s Excitable Boy suffered a perhaps inevitable back slide.

Still, Zevon felt no small amount of guilt for having disappeared into his addiction again.

“He was sober for 17 years beginning in the 1980s,” Crystal once told Dave Lefkowitz. “I think he got scared, as anyone would. He apologized profusely to me and to both of his children for having done that, for drinking. We all knew where he would go, so it was very sad for all of us. But he always had a lot of people around who would say: ‘Take a drink, buddy.’ A lot of people wanted to have a drink with the ‘excitable boy,’ who was known for shooting cockroaches in the bathtub.”

After a period of soul searching, Warren Zevon eventually got back to work — crafting one of his best-loved albums before passing in 2003. The Wind, featuring his devastatingly powerful farewell “Keep Me In Your Heart,” was issued in August. Zevon died on September 7, 2003. By December, The Wind had been certified gold, and eventually earned a stunning five Grammy nominations — including a nod for song of the year for “Keep Me in Your Heart.”

Since then, Warren Zevon’s brief return to the bottle has been put into perspective.

“It’s important to understand,” Crystal Zevon adds, “that he was a genius — not just because I’m saying he is, or people who enjoy his music are. He tested at a higher IQ than Einstein. So, part of his torment was this mind that never stopped. I think there would be times when he just wanted it to stop. He would have liked to have been normal, sometimes.”

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