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DeVille, Willy (27th August 1953-6th August 2009)

He was a singer-songwriter born William Borsay in New York City.

When he was still a teenager he decided to go and search for members for a band in London, England.  Not finding success he travelled back to the United States and settled in San Francisco to carry on his quest.  He eventually teamed up with Tom “Manfred” Allen and Ruben Siguenza and after several name-changes and a move to New York City, Mink DeVille were born.

They saw success with songs such as “Spanish Stroll ” and “Cadillac Walk” which were his own compositions, and released seven albums between 1976 and 1983.

His work as a songwriter became known and before long his music was appearing in many movie soundtracks culminating in an Academy Award nomination for “Storybook Love” for The Princess Bride.  Often working in collaboration with the songwriter Doc Pomus, their music includes songs such as “Just To Walk The Little Girl Home”.

Although having a problem with an addiction to drugs for many years he was highly respected amongst other artists and Doc Pomus is quoted as saying “He knows the truth of a city street and the courage in a ghetto love song.”

As a solo artist he released eight albums that include the Mark Knopfler produced Miracle, and with the Acoustic Willy DeVille Trio he released the album and DVD In Berlin.  After relocating to New Orleans at the very end of the 1980s he returned to the R&B sound which he would incorporate in his music with Mink DeVille and ended up recording with artists such as Allen Toussaint and Dr. John .  In 2002 he took to the road with the recently formed Acoustic Willy DeVille Trio and after releasing their successful album he returned to recording his next solo album Crow Jane Alley.

Suffering from pancreatic cancer he passed away in Manhattan, New York on August 2009 at the age of 58.

Mink DeVille recordings
Spanish Stroll (Willy DeVille)
Capitol CLX 103 (SF 93746 45) (UK 45)
Gunslinger (Willy DeVille)
Capitol CLX 103 (SF 93750 45)

Here he is performing “Steady Drivin’ Man”…