WILLY DEVILLE: HE HAD SAVOIR FAIRE

willyWilly DeVille, and find this tribute painful to write. (Willy died of pancreatic cancer a few days ago.) We’ll, never forget the first time we saw Willy – his band Mink DeVille performed on Saturday Night Live. He was mesmerizing. It was the height of punk music and Willy took it to another level- he dressed like a cross between a lanky English fop and a Latino pimp. A swirling pompadour, frock coats, purple and black, earrings, ruffles, the first gold front tooth we ever saw, and he managed to smoke and chew gum while he sang. It was love at first sight. He sang passionate ghetto love songs and also songs about Italian shoes and Cadillacs. We saw Willy sing “Save the Last Dance For Me” in the basement of a Sunset Strip club and will never forget his tender, yearning version of a great song. A sensitive, macho, dandy who brought street elegance to punk, he became a huge star in Europe, but America never quite understood him. We saw him perform every chance we got and were delighted to meet him and find out he was friendly and modest and loved his wife and dogs. The last time we saw him he gave us the white wife-beater undershirt off his back, and autographed it with a magic marker “Love, Willy.” We miss him terribly.

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Posted by Janet on August 9, 2009

There are 8 Comments.  TELL ME WHAT YOU THINK!

8 Comments so far

  1. By right
    On August 9, 2009 at

    Lets get some ideas on these blind items:

    WHICH elderly print journalist is deep in the closet and trolls Craigslist for younger men? When one asked him what he does for a living, he replied, “Write nonfiction books, news (can’t I be a little discreet?)” . . . WHICH unmarried Hollywood couple have an open relationship? He’s been sleeping with a much less attractive actress, but she prefers women anyway . . . WHICH reality-TV starlets swing both ways? The 20-something co-stars were kissing at a recent getaway and stayed together in a hotel room.

  2. By Reta
    On August 9, 2009 at

    The above “comment” makes ABSOLUTELY NO SENSE! At all!!

    Plus, sorry Janet, never heard of this guy you post about, but glad you like his wifebeater shirt.

    (PS…doesn’t sound like much to me, no wonder he never caught on here).

  3. By Len Fagan
    On August 9, 2009 at

    Janet: Your descriptive post captured the style and spirit of Willy, but let’s not for get his extraordinary passion for the music he grew up listening to. I was a HUGE fan of Willy’s since 78, and was privileged to meet him and remain close friends with him since 88 or 89. He was always a humble man–though very proud of his work. Very sociable to anyone he met. Considerate and caring. A true romantic, and had more charisma simply smoking a cigarette than most performers who RELY on their stage antics and spectacle. In 32 years of recording, he released over 17 albums for his rabid cult following. I don’t think there will ever be another artist who comes along and leaves behind such a large, QUALITY, body of work, with such unique style. His appearance on the Oscar telecast doing “Storybook Love” has GOT to be the hippest thing that tired,old, safe broadcast ever did! len.fagan@yahoo.com

  4. By Nancy
    On August 9, 2009 at

    Thank you, Janet, for this tribute to Willy, I could have been speaking these very words myself, (except I never got a shirt from him, lol). I did, however, also, see him back as Mink DeVille three times, and we talked to him, he was down to earth, and your description of him at the time could not have been more on the money. The folks who do not know who he was… well, they missed something really good. He was unique.

  5. By Danielle R
    On August 9, 2009 at

    This is very upsetting news. Seems like all my old idols are dropping like flies.

    The last ten years has been hard on us old punk rock chicks.

  6. By captain america
    On August 10, 2009 at

    WE MISS HIM TERRIBLY TOO!!
    …………………who exactly?

  7. By Liberal Media Is Corrupt
    On August 15, 2009 at

    I used to see Mink DeVille at the Red Carpet bar on the eastside of Detroit.

  8. By Barkley
    On August 19, 2009 at

    Just played his excellent 45 “Each Word’s a Beat of My Heart” the other day. Great song that almost was a hit for him. Didn’t hear of his passing. Thanks Janet.

8 Responses to “WILLY DEVILLE: HE HAD SAVOIR FAIRE”




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