Funk pianist and singer Ivan Neville opened up about his serious (and simultaneous) battles with COVID-19 and pneumonia in a new feature by Keith Spera on Nola.com on Wednesday. In the piece, Neville shares details on the health journey which he and his girlfriend, Ashley Martin, have been through over the past few months since the respiratory virus emerged en masse in the U.S. back in early March.
Similar to the COVID-19 stories of fellow musicians like Jackson Browne and Oteil Burbridge, Neville (60) began to feel ill following a trip to New York City in March, where he attended The Brothers 50 anniversary concert at Madison Square Garden on March 10th and performed at the Love Rocks NYC benefit event at the Beacon Theater a couple of nights later.
Neville explains that he “Felt a little off” after returning to his home in New Orleans, quickly developed a fever, lost his appetite, experienced body chills, and developed a cough. He also found himself dealing with a subtle loss of his cognitive abilities since the flow of oxygen to his brain was being affected by the novel respiratory virus.
Even with the evolving sickness, Neville’s first attempt to get tested for COVID-19 was denied since he didn’t show severe symptoms at the time, though his situation continued to escalate in the days that followed.
“I woke up one night burning up. The screen on the thermometer turned red before the number came up. It was 103,” Neville explains in the article. “I got a cold facecloth and laid in bed thinking, ‘If I die now, I can’t even have a funeral.’ I was absolutely scared.”
After finally going to the hospital to take a coronavirus test (which came back positive on April 3rd), he also underwent a chest x-ray which revealed he had pneumonia. He was sent home with an oxygen machine. It wasn’t long after that Martin tested positive for COVID-19, as well, but showed different symptoms than Neville including loss of taste and smell, nausea, and body aches.
“She handled it like Hercules, while I was in the back of the house in the fetal position, whimpering with the covers over me,” Neville added in talking about his longtime live-in girlfriend. “I was so pitiful, and she was running the house.”
Neville spent the next few weeks recovering with help from the oxygen machine and eventually became less dependent on it for full use of his lungs. Neville finally received a negative test earlier this month, and continued to regain his strength even while dealing with recovery setbacks like tightness in his chest. He’s since made his way back out in public where he makes sure to wear a mask and gloves.
“I got the mask to protect you — I already had coronavirus,” Neville mentioned about returning to the outside world. “It pains me to see people not taking this seriously. Until you put a face on it, it’s out of sight, out of mind. People are very nonchalant unless they’ve been immediately affected by it. I don’t want to get this again. I wouldn’t wish it on anyone.”
“I know club owners are not sitting on a pot of gold — they’re all hurting,” Neville continued in relation to the current state of the live events industry. “But I’m not ready to go buck wild. We’re all going to have to adjust when we go back to doing our job. Social distancing in Tipitina’s — how are you gonna do that? I’d rather be hurting financially than laid out waiting to be buried, and people can’t even come to your funeral. I don’t want to be in that number.”
Fans will be able to hear a recovered Ivan Neville perform when he takes part in Quarantine Comes Alive, a one-day virtual music festival featuring performances by more than 60 of our favorite artists on throughout the day on Saturday, May 30th beginning at 1:00 p.m. ET.
Modeled after Brooklyn Comes Alive and Denver Comes Alive, Quarantine Comes Alive was conceived as a way to celebrate and support musicians, provide fans with unique musical experiences from the comfort of their couches, and raise money for comprehensive COVID-19 relief during this time of uncertainty. All funds raised from the donation-based event will be split evenly between the artists on the bill and the PLUS1 COVID-19 Relief Fund.
Click here for a full list of participating artists. For more information, visit QuarantineComesAlive.com. For updates, follow Quarantine Comes Alive on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter and join the Facebook Event page.