Inspired by the magnificent post from Andrea over at Conventional Records I grabbed out the featured record by Willy DeVille out of my box and listened again to it. During listening to the old songs and remembering the times I bought this record I thought it will be a good idea to start a new series. Not regular but every now and then I will place a post about people (mostly) that died and their legacy is too important to be forgotten. According to Andrea I will start with Willy DeVille. His full history you can read here, so I will limit myself to the essential one.
The first time I became aware of him was when his first record was discussed in a music magazine. The critic (which I called the German Lester Bangs) cheered at the new album with the words:
Take the best of Jagger from the early Stones-phase, from Lou Reed the best of the early Velvet Underground and from Van Morrison the best of the early Them-Phase. Mix it up with some Spanish/Mexican ingredients and ready is the best R&B-record that was recorded since the named made it.
After reading this I went to my local record store to buy me a copy. And after listening to the record I had to agree to the critic in every word. Mink DeVille’s first record ‘Cabretta’ is filled with a lot of great tunes and he made a perfect combination of nowadays R&B, ballads and cover versions. Songs like ‘Cadillac Walk’, ‘Venus on Avenue D’ and ‘Can’t Do Without It’ are real classic. Since then I followed his career and noticed most of the records he released.
Mink DeVille – Cadillac Walk (Live in Montreux)
With his third record he turned more and more in a different style and moving away from the classical R&B turning his mind onto more arrangements with horns and strings. In the late 1980s he he moved to New Orleans and changed his and the bands name into Willy Deville. That was also the time when he found his musical spirit in the sound New Orleans. You can hear this spirit especially on maybe the best record that he made in this era ‘Backstreets of Desire’. There’s no more words to say – the songs speaks for themselves.
I only saw him live once a time. It was in 2008 on his last tour. Knowing that ha always had huge problems with his health me and a lad have taken the chance to see him live in Stuttgart. The show started and he moved on the stage with a cigarette in his mouth, a moving help at his hand and sat down on a barstool. Then he started playing his set – and it was awesome. Even if he was drawn by his illness he made a great and intimate performance. We both sat there nearly crying – knowing, that his life will go to the end. In 2009 he was diagnosed with Hepatitis C and later this year the doctors discovered in the course of his Hepatitis C treatment. He died on August 9, 2009. What will remain is his legacy in music by one of the most underrated musicians ever.