Friday, March 24, 1978

Warren Zevon “Werewolves of London” charted

Werewolves of London

Warren Zevon

Writer(s): LeRoy Marinell, Waddy Wachtel, Warren Zevon (see lyrics here)

Released: January 18, 1978

First Charted: March 24, 1978

Peak: 21 US, 15 CB, 11 GR, 17 HR, 14 RR, 2 CL, 4 CO, 87 UK, 18 CN, 8 AU, 2 DF (Click for codes to charts.)

Sales (in millions): --

Airplay/Streaming (in millions): -- radio, 19.7 video, 105.23 streaming


Click on award for more details.

About the Song:

Rock singer/songwriter and musician Warren Zevon was born in Chicago in 1947. He worked as a session musician and jingle composer before recording his first solo album (Wanted Dead or Alive, 1970). After it flopped, he worked as a touring musician with the Everly Brothers. He finally found success when Linda Ronstadt covered several of his songs including “Poor Poor Pitiful Me” and “Hasten Down the Wind.”

His third album, 1978’s Excitable Boy, benefited from the attention, reaching the top 10 and going platinum. It spawned the most recognizable songs of his career with the title cut, “Lawyers, Guns, and Money,” “Roland the Headless Thompson Gunner,” and “Werewolves of London.” The latter was his only top 40 hit.

It started as a joke by Phil Everly in 1975. He saw a television broadcast of the 1935 film Werewolf of London and suggested Zevon adapt the title into a song and dance craze. Zevon wrote a song in about fifteen minutes with LeRoy Marinell and Waddy Wachtel, but none of them took the song seriously. However, when Zevon’s friend Jackson Browne saw the lyrics, he thought it had potential and started playing “Werewolves of London” at his own shows. T-Bone Burnett also performed it during Bob Dylan’s 1975 Rolling Thunder Revue tour. WK

Browne’s record company pushed for him to record the song, but he refused. However, he produced Zevon’s self-titled album in 1976 and Excitable Boy in 1978. While they opted not to put it on the 1976 album (Browne wanted to get some of Zevon’s more experimental work out there first), they did record it for Boy. The recording featured Fleetwood Mac’s Mick Fleetwood on drums and John McVie on bass. The record company chose it as the lead single for the Excitable Boy album, although Zevon thought it was more of a novelty song and preferred “Johnny Strikes Up the Band” or “Tenderness on the Block.” WK Kid Rock sampled the song for his hit “All Summer Long.”


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First posted 2/3/2023.

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