Friday, August 7, 2009

Willy DeVille, R.I.P


Anonymous said...

Junkie, asshole, vile human being& ego-maniac can't really feel sorry about his death, sorry Sal.

Sal Nunziato said...

Just reporting, Sir.

Anonymous said...

Just giving my opinion, Sal.

piero said...

the 'anonymous' full of bile is describing a genius that has touched many hearts. not sure who he/she has ever touched...
not sure why people bother being so negative, especially that early in the day!?!
loved Willy's music, met him a few times through the years and he was always a gentleman and a gentle soul.
he will be missed!

steve simels said...

I interviewed him once, when he was on Atlantic. It was a bit of a nightmare -- his girlfriend actually shot him up in front of me (and this was in his manager's office, and I have to think that said manager was the real scumbag, and probably ripping Willie off six ways from Sunday). I was just an innocent young lad from the burbs and to say I was shocked is a bit of understatement.

Funny thing is, he was super nice, really smart, and we talked music the whole time this was happening.

Surreal is the word. But I liked him. A lot. And every album had something to recommend it.

Anonymous said...

Hey Piero, i just expressed an opinion, i met Willy plenty of times and he was not a good guy, if you had a great experience that's great!
I never did in over a dozen meetings.
I don't believe in suddenly forgetting all the bad things someone did just because they died.

geno said...

At least, Willy, as damaged as he might have been or as ill mannered as he might have been, put his name on his work.

Sometimes, people are treated like they treat people.

My only contact with the man was through his art, and he was always nice to me.

Whatever your "relationship" was with him, Anonoymous, it's easy to take shots at someone who now can't defend or admit to his side of the story.
De mortuis nil nisi bonum dicendum est

Anonymous said...

And if Willy were alive he'd be on here defending himself? I also enjoyed his music til i had dealings with him.
Not that i'm equating him with evil people like Hitler, Manson etc but should we have said after Hitler died, well he did get the German economy back on track.
Maybe you don't know about Willy being involved with Johnny Thunders death? Another not so nice person tho' not in Willy's class.

Sal Nunziato said...

Time for me to weigh in here.

"I don't believe in suddenly forgetting all the bad things someone did just because they died."

The world just witnessed, in the most extravagant sense, that exact sentiment. The last thing Michael Jackson did of any relevance, was "Bad," released in 1987. Since then, his doings have been a frightening spectacle, causing most to laugh, ridicule, and even call for jail time. Now, dead, he is the greatest human being who ever lived.


As for Willy DeVille, I posted the news of his death as a public service. I never met the man and have no idea what kind of a person he was. What baffles me, is the love and adoration by so many people I respect, for a man who to me, made music that was second rate. I would rather see a debate on these pages over his music.

Tell me what I've been missing all these years. Willy DeVille seemed like an okay rocker with an okay voice, trying to convince us that he was genuine. And to me, he was as convincing as Gene Wilder in "Stir Crazy," bopping around shouting, "We bad! We Bad!"

Sad news, regardless.

Kevin said...

“a man who to me, made music that was second rate”
I really loved the first album when it came out. I had just moved to Asbury Park and if I remember correctly, bought that and Beach Boy's Love You the same day at a downtown sidewalk sale.
I probably first heard it on Vin Scelsa's show. I also saw him live through the years maybe three times.
The first was at the Capitol Theater in Passaic with Rockpile and Elvis Costello. Dave, Nick, Billy, and Terry won the night, as Elvis apostated from the guitar driven first album to the keyboard based Attractions. Mink DeVille was good, but they were promoting the second album, which I didn't like as much as the first.
Someone once compared him with Southside Johnny, writing he liked their ballads better than their fast songs, and I'd agree (Listen to Mixed Up Shook Up Girl, and some of his rockers could be a bit formulatic). But Willy had some great fast stuff, too. The acoustic blues stuff on Dark Horse (18 Hammers) is pretty raw and very good. The Berlin live disc has some good stuff; I like the end of disc two better than the first performance.
I'm sorry to hear Willy had a dark side. I never really followed his personal life, and this is not meant as a slight against any other comment. But listen to Bad Boy, I Broke That Promise, Just To Walk That Little Girl Home, Mixed Up Shook Up Girl, and You Better Move On for a primer. Le Chat Bleau, Victory Mixture, the 1st album, parts of Dark Horse, and Berlin set are all worth a listen (IMHO). There was also a really cool live TV special in the 80's, I believe, with a smoking You Better move On.

Anonymous said...

Okay Sal, since i seem to have opened up "a can of worms", i like his first album, the rest are all pedestrian pseudo New Orleans soul/rock, i saw him at the 30th anniversary for CBGB's and was underwhelmed by his performance and making the audience wait for over an hour as he walked through the crowd like the diva he thought he was.
His first album is real good in that early 70's "street rock" that Scorsese loves but my personal feelings with all the instances i was will not change. I'll get crapped on once again but Willy was not a saint, i stated an opinion just as you do 5 days a week ( more saturday posts, please!)some people won't agree with me, that's fine but i wonder if he messed around with close friends of yours would you keep your mouth shut or state the facts.
I'm not trying to rile people up but there are a lot of famous people out there that i've met who were very nice to their fans and people that work for them and then there are a**holes, not everyone is a saint, look at Chuck Berry.

Sal Nunziato said...

I don't think anyone here was telling you NOT to express your opinion.

But Geno, Kevin, Piero, Steve Simels, and myself all have very strong opinions AND names.

Anonymous said...

My name is Larry.

Anonymous said...

Sal, you wrote, "What baffles me, is the love and adoration by so many people I respect, for a man who to me, made music that was second rate."

I think his music was anything but second rate. He was a master of many different American roots styles -- the Brill Building sound, New Orleans R&B, Spanish rythmes, to name a few. DeVille said many times that American music got sidetracked by the Beatles invasion. If you hold that view, and you believe that the Drifters and other pre-British invasion sounds should be the standard, then Willy DeVille was a great one for upholding that standard. Listen closely to his albums over the years. He always strove for originality, but originality within the confines of American roots prerequisites. I've always loved his music.

Sal Nunziato said...

"He always strove for originality, but originality within the confines of American roots prerequisites."

And I have always heard the opposite, someone trying to sound authentic but always falling short with good records that in theory should have been great.

Anonymous said...

"And I have always heard the opposite, someone trying to sound authentic but always falling short with good records that in theory should have been great."

Sal, if you want to get the best of Willy DeVille and find out why he was so special, start by listening to "Le Chat Bleu." DeVille employed some of France's leading string arrangers to get an Edith Piaf-like sound for that one. Rolling Stones critics list in 1980 named it one of the five best albums of the year.

You might also want to listen to 1985's "Miracle," which was a collaboration with Mark Knofler of the Dire Straits. There are some really rocking numbers on that.

His 1987 album "Victory Mixture" includes guest artists such as Allan Toussaint and Edie Bo. These musicians' careers have been resurrected recently, but keep in mind that in 1987 they were playing little bars in New Orleans and nobody appreciated them to speak of. Elvis Costello went on tour with Allan Toussaint in 2004 (post Katrina); DeVille toured Europe with him in 1989, 15 years earlier.

In the last ten years or so of his career he started recording in L.A. with John Phillip Shenale as producer. Shenale is a big-time L.A. producer now, recording the likes of Tori Amos and even Paul McCartney, but when DeVille hooked up with him first in 1993, nobody knew about him. Anyhow, in his last decade and a half he worked with a lot of Latino musicians and carved out an unusual southwest sound. It was highly original.

You can consider his work derivative (I don't think you're listening close enough), but you can't deny he always worked with top-notch musicians and producers (let's not forget he worked with Jack Nietschze), and he always strove to be original. He stretched the boundaries. I'm just amazed that he isn't in the R&R Hall of Fame and people like Jackson Browne are.

Sal Nunziato said...

I've heard ALL of the Willy you mentioned, precisely for the reasons you mentioned.

As for the musicians playing in "little bars in 1987," these guys were playing in those same little bars long before Willy came along and long after Willy left town. There is obviously a mutual respect for all involved...just not so much from me.

I don't get Willy DeVille.

Anonymous said...




Sal Nunziato said...

Hey recent Anonymous, I really didn't say anything to disrespect Mr. Deville. Some of my readers may have, but not me. I'm not a fan, and that should be okay, no?

Thanks for reading.