Founding The Meters and Neville Brothers member Art Neville, who celebrated his 81st birthday this week, has officially announced his retirement from music. The legendary keyboardist/vocalist mad the announcement on Wednesday evening amid a number of recent health issues that have hampered his mobility. He has been a staple of the New Orleans music world since 1953, when he joined The Hawketts as a teenager and sang lead on their remake of country tune “Mardi Gras Mambo”, a recording that is still widely played during the annual celebration.
Even in the year leading up to Wednesday’s announcement, Art Neville, a.k.a. Poppa Funk, has stayed away from the stage. When The Meters were honored with a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award earlier this year, Art was unable to make the ceremony and accompanying performance. His son, Dumpstaphunk guitarist Ian Neville, attended the proceedings to accept the award on Art’s behalf.
In August, while discussing the Meters’ Lifetime Achievement Grammy, Leo Nocentelli had mentioned that the band was taking a “wait and see” approach to Neville’s health in terms of a potential reunion, noting, “I’m hoping and praying that he’ll be able to play again.” With this new announcement, Art has confirmed that those hopes will not come to fruition.
However, the legacy of the Meters and the Nevilles is alive and well in today’s music scene. Both Ian and Ivan Neville continue to do their thing with Dumpstaphunk, who was just announced as a supporting act for Dead & Company’s upcoming Playing in the Sand event. The Meters’ Zigaboo Modeliste and George Porter Jr. continue to play consistently with their Meters-inspired project, Foundation of Funk. On December 28th, they’ll both celebrate their birthdays with a blowout at Berkeley, CA’s Freight & Salvage Coffeehouse.
We wish all the best to Art Neville in his retirement!
[H/T The New Orleans Advocate]