Willy DeVille (August 25, 1950 – August 6, 2009) was an American singer and songwriter. During his thirty-five-year career, first with his band Mink DeVille (1974–1986) and later on his own, Deville created original songs rooted in traditional American musical styles. He worked with collaborators from across the spectrum of contemporary music, including Jack Nitzsche, Doc Pomus, Dr. John, Mark Knopfler, Allen Toussaint, and Eddie Bo. Latin rhythms, blues riffs, doo-wop, Cajun music, strains of French cabaret, and echoes of early-1960s uptown soul can be heard in DeVille’s work.
Mink DeVille was a house band at CBGB, the historic New York City nightclub where punk rock was born in the mid-1970s. DeVille helped redefine the Brill Building sound. In 1987 his song “Storybook Love” was nominated for an Academy Award. After his move to New Orleans in 1988, he helped spark the roots revival of classic New Orleans R&B. His soulful lyrics and explorations in Latin rhythms and sounds helped define a new musical style sometimes called “Spanish-Americana”.
DeVille died of pancreatic cancer on August 6, 2009 in a New York hospital. He was 58 years old. Although his commercial success waxed and waned over the years, his legacy as a songwriter has influenced many other musicians such as Mark Knopfler and Peter Wolf.