Equal parts scabrous and brilliant, Warren Zevon was a singer-songwriter whose no-holds-barred approach to his art and his life produced a spate of exhilarating, literate and darkly humorous songs in the 1970s and 1980s, including "Werewolves of London," "Poor Poor Pitiful Me," "Lawyers Guns and Money" and "Excitable Boy. " Fascinated with the grittier side of life, Zevon's material depicted the odd, often violent lives of fringe characters whose grip on their own sanity was tenuous at best. But like all born pessimists, Zevon was also a dyed-in-the-wool romantic, as evidenced by such gorgeous ballads as "Hasten Down the Wind," which made him a favorite of performers like Jackson Browne, Linda Ronstadt, Bonnie Raitt and the Eagles. Zevon hit his stride in the mid-1970s with a string of hard-rocking albums that he supported with equally raucous live shows; unfortunately, his propensity for drugs and alcohol derailed his career on several occasions in the 1980s. He rebounded in the late '90s with a handful of records that took a rueful look at his own mortality, which eerily presaged a diagnosis of terminal cancer in 2002. After completing his final album, the Grammy-winning The Wind, Zevon died in 2003, leaving behind an erratic but unquestionably memorable career, as well as some of popular music's most gleefully mordant songs.