Willy DeVille In-depth Biography
The roots of American music, including the blues}, R&B}, and Cajun} music, gave Willy DeVille}'s (born William Borsey}) late-'70s punk} band, Mink DeVille}, its unique flavor. A quarter of a century later, DeVille} continued to blend musical traditions and postmodern intensity. A self-taught guitarist, DeVille} found his early inspiration in the blues} of John Hammond Jr.}, Muddy Waters}, and John Lee Hooker}. Determined to become a musician, he moved to London in 1971, hoping to latch on with a British band. Frustrated by his lack of success, he returned to the United States. Temporarily settling in San Francisco, he spent most of 1972 developing his stage persona in Bay Area clubs. Returning to New York, DeVille} was in the right place at the right time. Forming a band, Dilly DeSade & the Marquis}, later renamed Mink DeVille}, with bassist Ruben Siguenza} and drummer T.R. "Manfred" Allen Jr.}, he found his roots-oriented rock} welcome in the city's burgeoning punk} scene. When the independent Omfug} label included three of their songs on the multi-artist compilation Live at CBGB's}, recorded at the influential New York punk} club, their punk} connection was assured. With Atlantic} acquiring national distribution rights to the album, Mink DeVille} became one of the country's top punk} bands.
Willy DeVille} has remained active since the breakup of Mink DeVille} in the mid-'80s. His debut solo album, Miracle}, was produced in 1987 by Mark Knopfler} of Dire Straits}, and included such guests as guitarist Chet Atkins}. One tune, "Storybook Love,"} used in Knopfler}'s score for the film The Princess Bride}, was nominated for an Academy Award. Residing in New Orleans since the early '90s, DeVille} featured the city's leading musicians, including Dr. John}, Allen Toussaint}, and Eddie Bo}, on his 1990 album, Victory Mixture}. New Orleans-style rhythms remained essential on his 1996 albums, Big Easy Fantasy} and Loup Garou}. Subsequent releases have focused on DeVille}'s live shows. Released in 2001, Live} combined performances from the Bottom Line} in New York and the Olympia Club} in Paris. Live in Berlin}, released two years later, featured the accompaniment of Seth Farber} (piano, background vocals), Boris Kinberg} (percussion), Freddy Koella} (guitar, mandolin, vocals), David Keyes} (bass, background vocals), and YaDonna Wise} (background vocals). ~ Craig Harris, All Music Guide