The city of New Orleans has suffered a major loss with the death of Art Neville — a founding member of the Meters, the Neville Brothers and the Funk Meters. He died on Monday at the age of 81.
His death was confirmed by his longtime manager, Kent Sorrell, who said that Neville “passed away peacefully this morning at home with his wife, Lorraine, by his side.”
“Art ‘Poppa Funk’ Neville shaped the sound of New Orleans music for a half-century,” NOLA.com wrote in its obituary tribute.
Born in 1937, the keyboardist, singer, and songwriter known as “Poppa Funk” grew up to be one of the most influential musicians in New Orleans history.
His five-decade career earned him three Grammy Awards, including the organization’s Lifetime Achievement Award in 2018. He also received the NAACP Image Award in 2006.
His first band, the Meters, known for their songs “Cissy Strut,” “Sophisticated Cissy” and “Look-Ka Py Py,” even opened for the Rolling Stones on their Tour of the Americas in 1975.
In the late 70s, Neville and his three brothers — Aaron, Charles and Cyril — along with their uncle, George Landry, came together as The Neville Brothers to work on the Wild Tchoupitoulas album. The Neville Brothers went on to perform together for decades, becoming a New Orleans institution.
For many years, the group closed out the main stage of the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival on its final Sunday.
As news of Neville’s passing spread on social media late Monday evening, fans and celebrities began to offer their condolences.
Neville is survived by his wife, Lorraine, and his three children.
May he Rest in Power.