Art Neville of Neville Brothers, Meters Fame Announces Retirement

Art Neville
Jay Blakesberg

Art Neville

Art Neville, a founding member of the legendary Neville Brothers and a 2018 Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award recipient for his work with the Meters, has announced his retirement. The New Orleans icon turned 81 earlier this week (Dec. 17).

In a release announcing his retirement, Neville thanked “the fans for all the wonderful years of support and for letting us share our music with the world."

Nicknamed “Poppa Funk,” Neville also co-founded a third seminal band during his 65-year career: the funky Meters. He had continued to tour until late last year with the Meters celebrating 50 years and funky METERS, the latter Neville's 24-year collaboration with his musical partner of the last 50 years -- original Meters bassist George Porter Jr. -- and Neville Brothers’ guitarist Brian Stoltz. The band, with Neville’s nephew Ivan Neville, filling in on keyboards this year in his absence, will hopefully celebrate its 25th anniversary in 2019.

The original Meters lineup also included Neville’s brother Cyril, Leo Nocentelli and Joseph “Zigaboo” Modeliste. In addition to their own signature brand of syncopated funk (“Cissy Strut,” “Sophisticated Cissy”), the influential quintet were in-demand fixtures at Allen Toussaint and Dr. John sessions. The Meters also opened for the Rolling Stones on the latter’s 1975 Tour of the Americas.

Neville and brothers Aaron, Charles and Cyril formally came together in New Orleans as the Neville Brothers in 1977. Among the band’s memorable recordings is the 1989 album Yellow Moon. Produced by Daniel Lanois (U2, Bob Dylan, Willie Nelson), the album featured the Grammy Award-winning (best pop instrumental performance) track “Healing Chant.” The Neville Brothers performed a farewell concert in New Orleans in 2015.