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Asbestos, Not Rock And Roll, Fells Warren Zevon


8 September 2003, 6:38pm ET

SANTA BARBARA, Calif., Sept. 8 /PRNewswire/ -- The Mesothelioma Applied Research Foundation extends its condolences to the family, friends and fans of Warren Zevon. The singer songwriter died September 7 of mesothelioma, one year after he was diagnosed. He was 56.

News reports inaccurately refer to Zevon's cause of death as "lung cancer," and link it to his smoking habit or other aspects of his legendary rock and roll lifestyle. But mesothelioma is not strictly a lung cancer, and it is not caused by smoking. Zevon himself described the cause of mesothelioma in his song about life in "The Factory" and breathing the asbestos dust kicked up from the floor.

Twenty years ago, when Steve McQueen died of mesothelioma, news reports also blamed "lung cancer," and missed an important opportunity to raise awareness about this asbestos-caused cancer. Lack of awareness has lead to lack of concern, and lack of research funding. Compared to many other cancers, almost no progress was made in mesothelioma treatment in the past 20 years, and Warren's prognosis was as bleak as Steve McQueen's was twenty years earlier.

As a tribute to Zevon and thousands of personal heroes taken each year, and for the sake of the millions of Americans who have been exposed to asbestos and remain at risk for developing the cancer, we must fund the research necessary to improve treatments for this disease.

For more information, contact The Mesothelioma Applied Research Foundation ( ) Executive Director, Christopher E. Hahn, 805-560-8942,

When Warren Zevon was diagnosed with malignant mesothelioma, MARF ( attempted to make contact with his family. More than twenty years ago, also in Los Angeles, another celebrity was diagnosed with mesothelioma, Steve McQueen. Although Steve McQueen's fame marches on, few people know that his death was caused by asbestos-related mesothelioma. MARF's hopes were that Zevon would step forward and publically advocate the need for more federal spending on research to expand treatment options for mesothelioma. Unfortunately, we were never able to make contact with Zevon, who died about one year after his diagnosis.

We don't know how or when Zevon was exposed to asbestos. However, here is a song in which he laments an automobile factory worker's exposure to asbestos, from the song entitled "The Factory," from his album "Sentimental Hygiene."

Factory - Warren Zevon
From the album - Sentimental Hygiene

I was born in Sixty-three
I got a little job in a factory
I don't know much about Kennedy
I was too busy working in the Factory

We got a kid that's two, we've got another one due
We get by the best we can do
The Factory's got a good medical plan
And cousin I'm a union man

Saying yes sir, no sir, yes sir, no sir, yes sir, no sir, Work!
I was born in Mechanicsburg
My Daddy worked for Pontiac 'till he got hurt
Now he's on disability
And I've got his old job in the Factory

Saying yes sir, no sir, yes sir, no sir, yes sir, no sir, Work!

*** POSTED SEPTEMBER 10, 2003 ***