August 7, 2009

HE WORE HIS FINGERNAILS LONG:

Willy DeVille, Mink DeVille Singer and Songwriter, Is Dead at 58 (WILLIAM GRIMES, 8/08/09, NY Times)

Mr. DeVille, a regular at CBGB in the mid-1970s, lent his bluesy voice and eclectic musical tastes to Mink DeVille, one of the club’s main draws. A disciplined songwriter with a deep admiration for the Atlantic Records sound of the Drifters and Ben E. King, he drew from many sources, including Latin music, French ballads, New Orleans funk and Cajun accordion music. He was, the critic Robert Palmer wrote in The New York Times in 1980, “idiomatic, in the broadest sense, and utterly original.”

Mr. Deville was born William Borsey in Stamford, Conn. After dropping out of school at 16, he began spending time in Greenwich Village and on the Lower East Side, where he learned to play the guitar and began performing, affecting a blues style like that of John Hammond Jr. He played with several groups before assembling Mink DeVille on a trip to San Francisco. He brought it to New York in 1975.

Mink DeVille, frequently lumped in with its fellow headliners Blondie, Television and Talking Heads, was essentially a soul band with roots in the commercial songwriting traditions of the Brill Building. Onstage Mr. DeVille cut a dapper figure. A pencil mustache and sculptured pompadour complemented his suits and pointy Italian shoes.

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Posted by Orrin Judd at August 7, 2009 9:35 PM
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