Rest in peace Art Neville, founder of the Meters and the Neville Brothers. NPR reports:
One of New Orleans’ iconic musicians has died. Art Neville — a founding member of both the Meters and the Neville Brothers, died Monday at age 81. His death was confirmed by his nephew Ivan Neville (the son of Art’s brother, Aaron) and his manager of two decades, Kent Sorrell. According to Nola.com, he had been in declining health for years.
The keyboardist, singer and songwriter known as “Poppa Funk” was born December 17, 1937. Growing up, he loved doo-wop and the pianism of such New Orleans giants as Fats Domino and Professor Longhair. During high school, in 1953, he joined a group called the Hawketts. Just a year later, at age 17, he sang lead vocals on the Hawketts’ version of a country tune called “Mardi Gras Mambo.” It became a carnival classic.
Neville soon joined the Navy, and served in the late 1950s and early ’60s. But he didn’t give up his musical dreams: Even during his time in the service, he recorded a string of R&B singles. By the middle of the 1960s, he led a band called Art Neville and the Neville Sounds, a group which legendary New Orleans producer, pianist, singer and songwriter Allen Toussaint tapped as house musicians for his label, Minit. Soon, the Neville Sounds were renamed the Meters.
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