The death of the very eclectic rock 'n roll character Willy DeVille brought back memories of the old days of CBGBs, where he was a regular (his band Mink DeVille had three songs on that CBGBs live album on Atlantic), and his New York Times obit (he got his New York Times obit without delay) brought up all kinds of interesting revelations, not the least of which was that the Latin greaser with the pompadour and pencil mustache was a kid from Stamford, Connecticut, born William Borsey, that he'd gotten an Academy Award nomination (The Princess Bride) and, in a jolting penultimate line, that he left behind a widow and two dead wives:
"Mr. DeVille’s first two wives died."
That got us surfing and then we remembered Toots, the archetypal crazy punk rock chick who was somewhat essential to the Mink Deville mystique: According to Wikipedia:
"Willy DeVille was married in the late 1970s to Toots, with whom he had a son, Sean. Alex Halberstadt, Doc Pomus's biographer, wrote about Toots, 'Half French and half Pima Indian, Toots favored a pair of nose rings, snow-white kabuki make-up and a Ronettes-style beehive the color of tar. She'd once put out a lit Marlboro in a woman's eye just for staring at Willy.'"
The photos reveal that Amy Winehouse owes more than a little to Susan "Toots" DeVille.
So what ever happened to Toots? Heroin, which was not mentioned in the New York Times obit but was a large part of Willy DeVille's life for many years, is said to have been the cause of her death.
Jane Herwig's Digiom blog has a great, informative instant story on Toots' influence and style. Click here to check out What ever happened to Toots DeVille? (Heroin killed her).
Wikipedia says Willy's second wife was his business manager, Lisa (left). They were married in 1984, and lived in New Orleans and on a horse farm in Mississippi.
Lisa apparently died in 2001.
According to Wikipedia, she hanged herself. Willy DeVille found the body.
After Lisa's death, "he married Nina, his third wife, and returned to New York City, where he spent the rest of his life." Willy DeVille was diagnosed with Hepatitis C in February. Nina announced in February that doctors found cancer in his pancreas.
Nina left the following message on his website yesterday:
"It is with heavy hearts that we let you know that Willy passed away peacefully last night, August 6, 2009. His music and spirit will always be with us."
August 25th would have been Willy DeVille's 59th birthday.