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Warren Zevons & # 39; Werewolves of London & # 39; Song history

In 1975 Phil Everly had a crazy idea. The rock legend, best known as half of The Everly Brothers, had just watched the 1935 horror film Werewolf of London and he thought the title and theme would be great for a pop song and an accompanying one Ensure dance madness. [19659002] Everly shared this brainstorming with his touring keyboardist, a then unknown musician and songwriter named Warren Zevon. Together with friends LeRoy Marinell and Waddy Wachtel, Zevon promptly wrote "Werewolves of London", a dark, funny ode to a preppy animal roaming the English capital, peeling Chinese food and mutilating old women.

Three years later "Werewolves of" London "was officially released as part of Zevon's 1

978 album Excitable Boy and reached number 21 on the Billboard Hot 100. It was Zevon's first and only top 40 hit and followed him throughout his career and returned every Halloween with a certain vengeance.Zevon once described "Werewolves of London" – with this irresistible " Ah-hoooo " choir – as a "stupid song for clever people" That’s certainly it, but it’s also part of a line of comedy horror rock novelties that date back to the 1950s.

The top year for silly songs about the supernatural seems to be 1958 when David Sevilla's "Witch Doctor" and Sheb Wooley's "The Purple People Eater" both reached No. 1 on the Billboard charts, they ruled back to back, but another song kept the top spot between them: "All I have to do is dream" of – you guessed it – The Everly Brothers. Perhaps this explains why Phil Everly knew that his werewolf idea had legs.

Fortunately, Zevon and his friends didn't waste much time writing "Werewolves of London". The song essentially came together in one day at LeRoy Marinell's house in Venice Beach, California. Waddy Wachtel – regarded as one of the greatest studio guitarists of all time – came along on the way to another session and found Zevon hanging out. Zevon told Wachtel about the crazy song title Everly had suggested, and Wachtel replied, "Werewolves of London?" You mean " Ah-hoooo ?"

That is exactly what Zevon meant. Quail was gone and running. First, he told Marinell to play the nifty guitar lick he'd been playing with for years. When Marinell started his now classic reef, Wachtel started writing lyrics about a werewolf eating my beef chow in Lee Ho Fook, a real Chinese restaurant in London that is still in operation.

"I had just come back I'm from England, so I had all these texts in mind," said Wachtel. " So I just spat out the whole first verse. Warren says, "This is great!" I said: & # 39; Really? OK Good. There is your first verse. You write the rest. I have to go to the city. & # 39; "

It only took 10 or 15 minutes to finish what Wachtel had started. Zevon wrote the second verse while Marinell took the third, which ends with the classic line:" He'll tear you away get your lungs out, Jim / I'd like to meet his tailor. “When they were done, Warren's wife Crystal told them how much they liked the song I will sleep when I am dead: The dirty life and times of Warren Zevon . "Otherwise this song would never have gone anywhere."

The next day, while recording demos for songs he hoped Zevon could sell to The Eagles and Linda Ronstadt, and played for his producer "Werewolves of London", the famous rocker Jackson Browne. Browne dug out the song and started playing it sporadically in concert. Almost three years later, Zevon set about taking it up for Excitable Boy .

While "Werewolves of London" was a breeze, it turned out to be a bear to record. Browne and Wachtel jointly produced Excitable Boy and first tried to cut the song with drummer Russ Kunkel and bassist Bob Glau b, session aces, with superstars like Bob Dylan, Joni Mitchell and Rod Stewart had played. Kunkel and Glaub definitely had what it takes, but something was wrong.

"It didn't sound stupid enough; it sounded cute," said Quail. "Jackson said," It's really good! "And Warren and I said," No, man, it's too cute. It has to … be hard. "

Wachtel and Browne shuffled through the session boys, gathering five or six different bands hoping to achieve the level of stupidity they wanted. Finally, someone suggested bassist John McVie and drummer Mick Fleetwood, Fleetwood Mac's rhythm section Wachtel was thrilled with the idea and since he'd just worked with Fleetwood Mac members Lindsey Buckingham and Stevie Nicks, he knew how to find them.

McVie and Fleetwood had the right feeling but they didn't quite understand it. The band recorded take after take when the moon went down and the night turned to day. "I remember saying to Mick around 5 am:" I think we're done ! "Said quail. "And Mick looks at me with that crazy look he gets in his eyes and whispers: & # 39; We are never done, Waddy! & # 39; I thought: & # 39; Shit, we have a wild one here! & # 39; " [19659002] After 59 attempts, Wachtel and Browne decided to take # 2. Wachtel was much better off recording his guitar solo; he put it down in one pass before he could even sip the bottle of vodka he had opened. But the song wasn't finished. Months later, Zevon Wachtel called out of the blue and said he wasn't happy with the song's closing line. Zevon said it should end with: "I saw a werewolf drinking a piña colada at Trader Vic and his hair was perfect." Wachtel laughed, but later realized that it was just the right line.

Despite all the hard work they had put into recording “Werewolves of London”, Zevon and Wachtel were upset when Asylum the song they saw as a novelty as Lead single selected Excitable Boy . They would have preferred the more serious "tenderness on the block". From a commercial point of view, however, the label's instincts were correct. "Werewolves of London" spent six weeks on the Hot 100 and reached 21st place. In the decades since, it has never really disappeared.

Even when Zevon emerged as a songwriter and developed a loyal following, which included Bruce Springsteen, Tom Petty and Bob Dylan, "Werewolves of London" remained his calling card. Not only is it a multi-year Halloween favorite, it has also appeared in numerous TV shows and films, including 1986 in Martin Scorsese's film The Color of Money with Paul Newman and Tom Cruise. "Werewolves of London" would have been perfect for John Landis & # 39; horror comedy from 1981 An American werewolf in London but surprisingly the song was not included.

"Werewolves of London" was particularly popular in 1999. In January, Zevon took the stage at the opening ball of the Governor of Minnesota, Jesse Ventura, and played the piano when the newly elected leader sang "Werewolves of Minnesota". Later that year, the Minor League baseball team, the Kalamazoo Kodiaks, moved from Michigan to London, Ontario, and changed their name to werewolves. The team's sharply dressed mascot was named Warren Z. Vaughn.

When Zevon died in September 2003 after a public fight against cancer, "Werewolves of London" was of course mentioned at the top of almost every obituary. People even discussed the song in Zevon's memorial, which gave Jackson Browne – one of the song's early champions – the opportunity to think about what the lyrics were really about. It turns out that the song may have been deeper than ever.

"It's about a really well-dressed lady man, a werewolf chasing little old women," Browne said to Rolling Stone . . "In a way, it's the Victorian nightmare, the gigolo thing. The idea behind all these references is the idea of ​​the Neer-Do-Well, who devotes his life to pleasure: the decaying Victorian gentleman in gambling clubs and working with prostitutes; the aristocrat who wastes family fortune. All of this is hidden in one line: "I would like to meet his tailor."

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