Saturday, August 08, 2009

Willy DeVille's two dead wives

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.


Belinda Rachman, Esq. said...

Toots killed Willy. She was a white trash junkie bitch and I guess I am damn lucky I never got anything put out in my eye because Willy and I checked each other out each time we passed each other in the street. Toots tore up the proposal I gave Willy to shoot a film of him set to one of his songs. This was before MTV. I HATED Toots!!!!! He would probably still be alive if he would have dumped her ass for me!

Kings Farmer said...

To Lady Esquire:


Anonymous said...

Gee Belinda who's the bitch?
Yes, you are lucky because the way you describe it, you were just another slut looking to pork a rock star.
Susan was justifiably protective of Willy, especially when there were predators like you around. Willy died of cancer, how is Toots responsible for that?

Anonymous said...

What a mouthful of dirt Belinda Rachman ! And this for a lawyer. Hope your out of work soon.

Anonymous said...


I would have put the cigarette to another part of your body.

Shame on you.

Anonymous said...

Belinda, who´s the bitch???

You can be thankful that she didn´t put the cigarette to the special part of your body.

You must have been a very cheep kind of ... trash.

Bent Arrow said...

I was reciently turned on to Wille's music and his parts of his world. Two words came to mind after reading the comments made on the page of "Willy DeVille's Two Dead Wives".
I believe Willy would be totally embarassed if he were to read what is being said here.Sounding like two jealous high school twits competing for this man's attention.
After all is said and done in this cat fight bitch war, what does the winner get, definitely not the man she's competing for- Know why? Because HE'S DEAD LADIES!!!! HELLO!!! So all that's being accomplished here is showing the public the reason why he didn't marry either of you.
...Flame in her blood-Fire on her breath... Bent Arrow

SharonJ said...

Well I just came across this while reading about Toots on a Mabuhay Garden site, and since I knew Willy a teeny bit, thought I would leave a comment. I am not 100% sure of the year (early 90's) but I was introduced to Willy by Fast Floyd, who I had known around the Mabuhay for years and years, when I was working at a San Francisco radio station. Willy had a very loyal following here in the Bay Area, and I was definitely one of those followers. He was an absolutely beautiful human being, and he came into the station with Lisa and gave me a great interview. Lisa was also an incredibly sweet person. I just learned here that she'd hung herself that I was so sorry to learn, many years after the fact. I just want to say RIP to a man I will admit I had a crush on for 20 years, but who I was always very respectful of, as his fidelity to his wife was unmistakable. And RIP Lisa, who was also a lovely, lovely person. They made the world a better place when they were in it. We will have Willy's music to remember him by, and if you never saw him live, well, you missed it. Somewhere, I still have a rose he tossed from the stage of the Old Waldorf circa 1981.
With Remembrance, Sharon Jones


My sister went to school with Billy Borsey, I knew him through a mutual friend of Kiss member in the early eighties, we had good but short times then all of a sudden he was gone, the house in Darien Ct. I think was empty the next week, after that the check I cashed for him bounced, I had not heard from him till he was on The Key Biscuit Flour Hour a couple years later, then he was a hit in Europe but never found him, today I looked up his band sitting here wondering in my old age where he got to, now I know, I'll see you in heaven Billy for the debt, but not yet, Emil

Mellissa Cross said...

Just a note, it's the "King" Biscuit Flower Hour. I used to think because it was biscuit that it must be f-l-o-u-r. Not so It is actually flower. Wow. I bet a lot of people on here are dying. We are all getting old.

LarryR said...

For the record, I worked with Willy and the band of whom I'm still friends with for over 3 years. Ran the stage. Willy and Toots both were always kind to me. I got along well with them. Like any addicts (I work in drug treatment today) they had their demons and struggles but were good folks. I have read that Toots got sober and passed away working as a caretaker. This is all I could find to date. Willy, Toots , Lisa and Manfred (original Minks drummer) have all passed. May they rest in peace and Mink DeVille music live on forever. 75-79 was a very special time in Minks History!

Barbara Pedrick said...

For all her angst and weirdness, Toots kicked the habit, went to school and became a health care worker helping other addicts.
She died of cancer in 2004.