Art, “Poppa Funk,” Neville, beloved co-founder of influential the Meters and the Neville Brothers passed away at 81, according to his family and manager, Kent Sorrell. His manager stated that the eldest brother of the Neville Brothers had passed away in his home.
“Art ‘Poppa Funk’ Neville passed away peacefully this morning at home with his adoring wife, Lorraine, by his side,” Sorrell said in an email according to the Associated Press. Although a cause of death has not been determined, Neville had faced numerous health complications in his later years, including complications from back surgery.
Numerous people including the Recording Academy and Louisiana Governor John Bell Edwards gave condolences to the beloved musician. Neville was responsible for penning and performing “Mardi Gras Mambo,” which has been a staple of Mardi Gras and the city of New Orleans, often considered the birth place of jazz.
“Art will be deeply missed by many, but remembered for imaginatively bringing New Orleans funk to life,” the Recording Academy, which awards the Grammys, said in a news release.
“Louisiana lost an icon today,” Gov. John Bel Edwards said in a news release.
Neville began his interest in music at a young age, after growing up with his mother and frequent visits to their community church. Art and his siblings were partially raised in the now demolished Calliope housing project in New Orleans and at a family home in uptown New Orleans
“My grandmother used to clean the pulpit. She was in there cleaning it one day and I guess she was babysitting me ’cause I was in there with her. She went to one side and all of a sudden I was on the side where the organ was,” Neville stated in a 2003 interview. “Something told me to turn it on. I reached up and pressed a bass note and it scared the daylights out of me!”
Last year Neville announced his retirement from music, thanking “the fans for all the wonderful years of support and for letting us share our music with the world.” The band was succeeded by original Meters bassist George Porter Jr., Neville Brothers’ guitarist Brian Stoltz and Neville’s nephew Ivan Neville, filling in on keyboards.
Photo Credit: Brett Padelford