Saturday, August 08, 2009

Punkobit: Willy DeVille

Willy DeVille, founder of Mink DeVille, has died from pancreatic cancer.

Although the band which bore his made-up name might be his most visible memorial, DeVille created more than just punk in his career. After the band ended in 1985, he went solo and explored a range of genres, including Zydeco and cajun ballads. His work on the soundtrack of The Princess Bride won him an Oscar nomination in 1987.

Mink DeVille formed in 1974, getting a slot as house band at CBGBs shortly after Billy Borsay had changed his name to Willy DeVille. The arrangement lasted for three years and cemented the band's reputation as being at the heart of the US punk scene, despite DeVille's belief that his music had little in common with the CBGBs crowd.

A slew of albums for Capitol, starting with Cabretta, built on the band's reputation and saw them win a support slot on a Costello & Nick Lowe tour of the US. A spell with Atlantic would follow, but by 1985 DeVille was keen to explore other musical avenues and the band didn't so much split as disappear when the name was dropped. DeVille had, though, revived the name in the last few years, appearing as Willy DeVille and Mink DeVille Band.

Willy DeVille was 55; he is survived by a wife and a son.