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PASSINGS / Willy DeVille

From Times Staff and Wire Reports

Willy DeVille, 55, who founded the punk group Mink DeVille and was known for his blend of R&B;, blues, Dixieland and French Cajun ballads, has died of pancreatic cancer, his publicist Carol Kaye said Friday.

The Oscar-nominated songwriter died in a New York hospital.

Mink DeVille, for which DeVille was the principal songwriter, was billed as one of the most original groups on the New York punk scene after an appearance at the legendary CBGB club in Greenwich Village in the 1970s.

In 1977, the band recorded “Cabretta,” a rock ‘n’ roll/rhythm and blues album with producer Jack Nitzsche. Its featured song, “Spanish Stroll,” was a Top 20 hit in Britain. It was followed by the album “Return to Magenta.”

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His “Storybook Love,” featured in the 1987 movie “The Princess Bride,” was nominated for an Academy Award.

DeVille, who was born Aug. 27, 1953, in Stamford, Conn., recorded his “Victory Mixture” album with Dr. John, Eddie Bo, Allen Toussaint and others.


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