Posted On 22 Jul 2019
Keyboardist Art Neville, one of the famed Neville Brothers, died Monday after years of declining health, his manager said.
He was 81.
Born Arthur Lanon Neville, he was part of a number of musical acts over his lifetime, including The Meters, who toured with The Rolling Stones and served as the studio band for artists such as Patti Labelle, according to the band’s website.
The group reunited several times over the years but the original Meters, or the funky Meters back then, disbanded in the late 1970s. The group received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Recording Academy in 2018.
After the Meters first fizzled out, Neville founded the Neville Brothers with his three younger siblings — Aaron, Cyril and Charles — in the 1970s in their hometown of New Orleans. The brothers began singing as children, but stopped performing together in the 1950s and ’60s, then reunited to form the family act.
The Neville Brothers won a Grammy in 1989 for best pop instrumental performance for “Healing Chant” from their Yellow Moon album, which reached Platinum status.
For years, the Neville Brothers were the closing act at the annual New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival. The four brothers were scattered across the country while the city struggled to recover from Hurricane Katrina in 2005 but returned to anchor the festival in 2007.
In 1953, Neville joined the Hawketts and went on to record classic “Mardi Gras Mambo” in 1954, a song that has played at the New Orleans festival for decades.
Though his brothers Aaron and Cyril still perform, Neville announced his retirement in December. Charles Neville died in 2018.
“I didn’t make a lot of money. Maybe we did make it and didn’t get it. I don’t know,” Neville said. “But it don’t matter. My life is happy, I’m happy, the people that are closest to me are happy. Don’t worry about the other part.”
Aaron Neville asked in a tweet Monday that the public give the family time to grieve.
“Artie Poppa Funk Neville you are loved dearly by every one who knew you,” he wrote.
New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell issued a statement Monday and said that the city had lost a legend.
“Art Neville was a founding father of New Orleans funk, and so much more. We are poorer for his passing, and richer for having known him,” Cantrell said. “Generations of New Orleanians grew up on the sounds that Art Neville laid down over the decades. Art’s musical spirit lives on in his immediate and extended family: including his brothers, his son and his nephew.”
CORRECTION (July 22, 2019, 5:30 p.m. ET): A previous version of this article included an incorrect photo. The photo was of Cyril Neville, not his brother, Art Neville. It has been replaced by a photo of Art Neville.