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Willy 'Mink' DeVille dies aged 55

US songwriter Willy DeVille has died at the age of 55 after a battle with pancreatic cancer. DeVille headed the 1970s New York punk group Mink DeVille and achieved international recognition through a mariachi version of Jimi Hendrix's "Hey Joe".

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AFP - US singer songwriter Willy DeVille, who headed the 1970s New York punk group Mink DeVille before going solo and taking new directions, has died at the age of 55, his French tour organiser said Friday.

"Willy DeVille this night joined Edith Piaf, Jack Nitzsche and Johnny Thunders", said Caramba Spectacles, referring respectively to the French star who inspired him, to his producer, and to a fellow-70s punk guitarist.

His wife had announced in June that DeVille had pancreatic cancer.

DeVille in the late 70s played in New York's mythical CBGB club alongside the likes of Blondie or the Ramones with his first album Cabretta produced by Nitzsche, former arranger for Phil Spector.

His subsequent albums began to ooze romantic, with "Le Chat Bleu" recorded in part in Paris and inspired by his love of Piaf's music and of the French capital.

The next decade saw DeVille play soul, sometimes with a Latin touch, producing the European hit "Italian Shoes."

He moved to New Orleans in the 90s, where he also reappropriated the sounds of rhythm'n'blues, cajun and creole, and in 1992 produced a mariachi version of Jimi Hendrix reprise "Hey Joe", which became an international hit.

His last albums "Crow Jane Alley" and "Pistola", soul and blues with a Latin rhythm, symbolised his role in helping to define a new musical style sometimes known as Spanish-American.

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