Like many involved in the world of Rock and Roll, Warren Zevon – known for his hard-edged, hard-driving tunes – suffered an untimely death. But though he was an avid partier who had enjoyed his share of drugs, smoking, and alcohol, Zevon didn’t die of an overdose or drink himself to death.
Strangely enough, the rocker – who often appeared on the David Letterman Show – succumbed to mesothelioma in 2003 at the age of 56.
Recently, Zevon’s son, Jordan – an award-winning musician and well-known singer – began to speak out about his father’s plight in an effort to set the record straight in regards to his death and to prove to the word that ANYONE can be affected by asbestos-related cancer, even a wealthy, well-known rock musician who seemingly had it all.
Prior to a fundraiser for the Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization (ADAO), the younger Zevon spoke with LA Weekly about his father’s illness. He made it clear that sailors, factory workers, and other tradesmen are not the only ones who have the potential to develop mesothelioma.
Though his father never worked a non-musical day in his life, Jordan told the newspaper, he was exposed in other ways. One theory is that his band’s drummer would often bang on asbestos-coated ceiling pipes and other structures while playing in clubs around the country.
The asbestos material would flake off and circulate through the air where Zevon and others in the band could inhale it. About 20 years later, he was diagnosed with hard-to-fight mesothelioma, which would claim his life quickly.
Zevon’s son noted that rumors had circulated that smoking had killed his father. While smoking can cause mesothelioma to develop sooner, it is not directly connected to the disease. In other words, smoking cannot cause mesothelioma. The only truly recognized cause is exposure to asbestos.
The younger Zevon drives home a point that many miss. No one is exempt from developing this dreaded form of cancer. While it is more prevalent among those who worked among asbestos and asbestos-containing products on a regular basis, even those who are “casually” exposed can wind up with the disease.
It’s doubtful that Zevon and his band members knew they were putting their lives at risk by banging on asbestos-laden pipes, but even a small amount of exposure can lead to death.
Though asbestos use in the U.S. was largely curtailed in the late 1970s, the rock legend’s case shows that it’s still possible to encounter the material…even where you least expect it to be. That’s why it’s so important for individuals who are tackling projects such as home renovations to be super careful about handling asbestos materials.
Others also exposed unexpectedly include firefighters and first responders who enter buildings or undertake search and rescue operations in spaces where asbestos is present. Incidentally, this was the case with many individuals who served at the World Trade Center site after the 9/11 tragedy. Today, many of those public servants are suffering from asbestos-caused illnesses, including mesothelioma.