Obituaries: Willy DeVille, Billy Lee Riley, Jim Dickinson, Rashied Ali and Mike Seeger

Willy DeVille, who founded the punk group Mink DeVille and was known for his blend of R&B, blues, Dixieland and traditional French Cajun ballads, died Aug. 6. He was 58.

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 CBGB club in Greenwich Village in the 1970s.

Better known in Europe than in the United States, DeVille went solo in 1980 with Le Chat Bleu. His “Storybook Love,” featured in the 1987 movie “The Princess Bride,” was nominated for an Academy Award.

• • • • •

Billy Lee Riley, a rambunctious performer who helped develop the Sun Records sound as a studio musician for other headliners, died Aug. 2 at the age of 75.

Riley’s singles included “Red Hot” and “Flyin’ Saucers Rock & Roll.” He was overshadowed by his cohorts at Sun Records, including Elvis Presley, Carl Perkins and Jerry Lee Lewis. Among many other songs, Riley and his band played on the original Sun recording of Lewis’ “Great Balls of Fire.”

• • • • •

Musician and producer Jim Dickinson died Aug. 15 at the age of 67.

Perhaps best known as the father of Luther and Cody Dickinson, two-thirds of the Grammy-nominated North Mississippi Allstars, Dickinson recorded the Rolling Stones’ “Wild Horses”; formed the Atlantic Records house band The Dixie Flyers to record with Aretha Franklin and other R&B legends; and played with Bob Dylan on his Grammy-winning Time Out of Mind.

• • • • •

Rashied Ali, a free-jazz drummer who backed John Coltrane and accompanied him in a duet album in the final months of the jazz master’s life, died Aug. 12 at age 76.

After Coltrane died, Ali toured Europe before returning to New York to play and record there. He opened the jazz club Ali’s Alley in 1973 and launched the Survival Records label, which he maintained until his death. The club closed in 1979.

• • • • •

Mike Seeger, who helped revive traditional American folk music, died Aug. 7 at age 75.

Two of his siblings were key figures in the folk-music revival of the 1950s and ’60s: his half brother, Pete, and sister Peggy.

Mike Seeger helped form the traditional music group The New Lost City Ramblers in 1958. He recorded more than 40 albums solo and with others, and received six Grammy Award nominations.

Leave a Reply