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Art Neville, Founding Member Of The Meters And Neville Brothers, Has Died
JULY 22, 2019by: OFFBEAT STAFFLEAVE A COMMENT

Reports are emerging today (July 22, 2019) that Art “Poppa Funk” Neville, the iconic New Orleans musician and founding member of The Meters and The Neville Brothers, has died.

According to NOLA.com, the singer and keyboardist died at 81. For years, Neville had battled health issues, but a specific cause of death was not reported. In December 2018, the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award recipient announced he was retiring from music after more than 60 years.

In 2003, Art Neville received OffBeat‘s Best of the Beat Lifetime Achievement Award in Music. At the time, Bunny Matthews wrote of Poppa Funk’s illustrious career: “Art Neville is known and loved by his fans as ‘Poppa Funk,’ an apt designation considering his patriarchal role in the New Orleans music community. For nearly fifty years, Orleanians have danced and celebrated to his musical accompaniment, commencing with the immortal ‘Mardi Gras Mambo’ in 1954, continuing with the Meters in the ’60s and the Neville Brothers in the ’70s, up to the immediate now, jamming with his guitarist son Ian on recordings as delicious as any he’s previously created.”

In Matthew’s interview with Neville, he went into great detail about his early life and career including the origin story of The Meters, the seminal New Orleans funk group he co-founded in the ’60s with Zigaboo Modeliste, George Porter Jr. and Leo Nocentelli. “The Meters started at the Nitecap [a club on Louisiana Avenue]. Charles was in New York. It was Art Neville and the Neville Sounds. How we got that gig I can’t really remember. I know we were playing here, playing there. The cat at the Nitecap gave us three nights a week. We started doing some recording for Allen [Toussaint] and Marshall [Sehorn],” he recalled.

The Poppa Funk Resume:

  • 1937—Born December 17 in New Orleans at Charity Hospital.
  • 1944—Attends St. Monica School with classmates James Booker and Allen Toussaint.
  • 1954—As a member of the Hawkettes, Art records “Mardi Gras Mambo,” originally a country-swing song recorded by Jody Levens.
  • 1956–Art records “Cha Dooky-Doo” for Specialty Records.
  • 1957—Art tours with Larry Williams.
  • 1958— Art is stationed with U.S. Navy in Virginia Beach.
  • 1962–Art records “All These Things” (written by Allen Toussaint) for Instant Records.
  • 1967–Performs at the Nitecap with Art Neville and the Neville Sounds, featuring brothers Aaron and Cyril, saxophonist Gary Brown, drummer Joseph “Zigaboo” Modeliste, guitarist Leo Nocentelli and bassist George Porter, Jr. The band secures a gig requiring a four-piece ensemble at the Ivanhoe on Bourbon Street and the quartet continues as the Meters.
  • 1967–The Meters release the first of three albums on Josie Records
  • 1972–The Meters sign with Warner Brothers/Reprise. Five albums ensue: Cabbage Alley (1972), Rejuvenation (1974), Fire On The Bayou (1975), Trick Bag (1976), New Directions (1977)
  • 1975-76—The Meters open for the Rolling Stones on American and European tours.
  • 1976—The Wild Tchoupitoulas, featuring all four Neville Brothers, their Uncle Jolly (George Landry) and the Meters, is released on Island Records. Critic Robert Christgau calls it “the most sheerly likable album in all of history.”
  • 1978—The Neville Brothers released on Capitol Records.
  • 1979—The Meters disband.
  • 1981—Fiyo On The Bayou released on A&M Records.
  • 1984—Neville-ization, produced by Hammond Scott and Barry Wilson and recorded live at Tipitina’s in 1982, released on Black Top Records.
  • 1986—Treacherous: A History of the Neville Brothers released on Rhino Records.
  • 1987—Uptown, featuring Keith Richards, Jerry Garcia and Carlos Santana, released on EMI America Records.
  • 1988—Art and Lorraine Neville married at Jimmy Buffett’s home
  • 1989—The Meters reunite for Jazz Festival performance without Zigaboo. Leo departs band in 1992.
  • 1989–Daniel Lanois produces Yellow Moon at his Esplanade Avenue studio. The album’s “Healing Chant” wins the Nevilles a Grammy for Best Rock Instrumental.
  • 1990—Brother’s Keeper released.
  • 1992—Family Groove released.
  • 1994—Live On Planet Earth released.
  • 1996—Mitakuye Oyasin Oyasin /All My Relations released.
  • 1996—Art wins Grammy for Best Rock Instrumental Performance for “SRV Shuffle” with Jimmie Vaughan, Eric Clapton, Bonnie Raitt, Robert Cray, B.B. King, Buddy Guy and Dr. John.
  • 1999—Valence Street released on Columbia Records.
  • 1999—Uptown Rulin’: The Best of the Neville Brothers released on A&M Records.
  • 2000—The Brothers, a biography of the Neville Brothers, published by Little, Brown and Company.
  • 2000—All four original Meters reunite at the Warfield Theatre in San Francisco.
  • 2000—Art records “Micky Fick” for Organ-ized: An All-Star Tribute to the Hammond B-3 Organ, released on Windham Hill Records.
  • 2003—The funky Meters’ Fiyo At The Fillmore released on Too Funky Records, a label jointly owned by Art and George Porter, Jr.
  • 2003—Art receives the OffBeat Best Of The Beat Lifetime Achievement Award.
You can read more about Art Neville’s life and career in his own words, here.

OffBeat sends its sincere condolences to the Neville family and music fans around the world.
 

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Quite the life and legacy. I have copies of both the Fire on the Bayou and Wild Tchoupitoulas discs. Both every bit as good as described. Was both surprised and not surprised to learn of his early connection with James Booker and Allen Toussaint. I guess the identifiable N'Awlins sound has good reasons for being so identifiable: they all know/knew each other.
RIP Let's hope they have hot sauce in heaven.
 
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