< Back to press release archive

10 August 2009

On the night of August 6th 2009 we lost one of the great voices of American music. At the age of fifty-nine Willy DeVille has succumbed to Pancreatic Cancer. His death came as a shock to those who loved him and his music, for his diagnosis came only shortly before his death. Earlier this year Willy had informed his fans that he would be having to take some time off from performing and recording as he was having to undergo treatment for Hepatitis C, but in May of 2009 the doctors discovered that he had Stage Four Pancreatic Cancer.

Born on August 25th 1950 as William Borsey, he changed his to name to DeVille with the formation of the band that propelled him to international renown - The Mink DeVille Band. Willy's band had been sitting around talking of names when one of the guys said how about Mink DeVille, there can't be anything cooler than a fur lined Cadillac can there?

Mink DeVille were playing the type of music that Willy had first fallen in love with as a kid listening to the radio around the breakfast table. No matter that they were formed in San Francisco, you'd never think of Mink DeVille as anything but a New York City band. The Latin beats came from the lower east side and their cool was that of the street. While everybody else was in ripped t-shirts and jeans, Willy was even then developing the elegance and grace that would become the hallmarks of his stage presence throughout his career. Nobody before or since Willy has been able to blend the diverse elements of American popular music into one sound with such authenticity, soul, and passion.

While Willy may not have ever been properly appreciated in North America during his life time, he was adored in Europe where he was appreciated for his artistry and diversity. All told, either as himself or under the Mink DeVille banner, Willy released sixteen albums, and fourteen compilation packages of his material were also released over the years. Willy's last solo album Pistola was released on 2008 through Eagle Records and Eagle also released "Mink DeVille Live At Montreux" on DVD in the same year.

Most people when faced with the type of career adversity he's had, on top of the troubles he faced at times in his personal life, would have thrown in the towel long ago. However, as anybody who knew him will attest, Willy wasn't most people.*

* with thanks to Richard Marcus for additional material

For more information please contact Chris Hewlett PR on chris@chrishewlett.com or 0208 348 6767

< Back to press release archive

Follow ChrisHewlettPR on Twitter