NEW ORLEANS (CelebrityAccess) — Art Neville, a New Orleans music legend and founding member of the Meters and the Neville Brothers, has died. He was 81.
According to NOLA.com, Neville’s longtime manager Kent Sorrell said Neville “passed away at home with his adoring wife Lorraine by his side” after years of declining health.
Neville began performing professionally with a local New Orleans band The Hawketts when he was still a teenager and provided lead vocals on the band’s cover of “Mardi Gras Mambo” a song that would become a staple of the city’s Carnival.
Neville took a hiatus from performing for a six-year stint in the U.S. Navy, where he served as a cook.
Following his service, he returned to New Orleans where he formed Art Neville & the Neville Sounds which featured a group of local musicians that included George Porter Jr., Leo Nocentelli, Joseph Modeliste and Gary Brown.
The group was eventually recruited by Allen Toussaint as the house band for Toussaint’s recording studio, where they would record with artists such as Robert Palmer, Lee Dorsey, and Dr. John.
By 1968, the band had renamed itself the Meters and their music began to help redefine the New Orleans sound on the strength of R&B hits such as “Sophisticated Cissy” and “Cissy Strut” (1969) and “Look-Ka Py Py” and “Chicken Strut” the following year.
However, the group failed to find consistent chart success and by 1980, had parted ways.
Neville and his three younger brothers went on to found the Neville Brothers and for years, the group served as the closing act for the main stage of the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival.
As well, they played an outsized role in helping to export the New Orleans sound to a wider audience and in 1979, became the first New Orleans funk band to perform on Austin City Limits.
The Nevilles released their final studio album “Walkin’ in the Shadow of Life” in 2004 and performed their final farewell concert at Jazz Fest in 2015.
In July 2018, the Meters received a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award from the Recording Academy, with Neville’s son Dumpstaphunk guitarist Ian Neville on hand to accept the award.
According to NOLA.com, Neville’s survivors include his wife and three children.
Funeral arrangements are pending.