Art Neville, co-founder of seminal New Orleans funk acts the Meters and the Neville Brothers, has died, according to his family and management. He was 81 years old.
Neville’s career as a member of New Orleans music royalty began in 1954, when his band the Hawketts released an upbeat hit with “Mardi Gras Mambo.” Following a four-year stint in the United States Navy, Neville resumed his music career by co-founding the Meters with his brother, Aaron, in 1965. The funk outfit’s upbeat, inimitable groove in songs like “Cissy Strut,” “Look-A Py Py,” and “Hey Pocky A-Way” cemented them as architects of a new chapter of the city’s music history and funk music as a whole. The band has been nominated for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame four times, and last year, received a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award from the Recording Academy.
Following the dissolution of the Meters in the late 1970s, Art and Aaron continued to work together closely, assembling the Neville Brothers with siblings Charles and Cyril. The family band issued a handful of albums in the ’80s and ’90s, winning a Grammy in 1990 for best pop instrumental performance on Yellow Moon’s “Healing Chant.” In the decade following the Neville Brothers’ final album, 2004’s Walkin’ in the Shadow of Life, Neville occupied himself with the Funky Meters, a spinoff of his other band.
Neville’s health had been in decline for several years, and in December 2018, he announced his formal retirement from music.
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