OffBeat Magazine
Inmemoriam Image Credit: OffBeat Magazine
Inmemoriam Image Credit: OffBeat Magazine


Arthur Lanon Neville—“Poppa Funk”—a keyboardist, New Orleans music icon and downright great individual, died July 22 after several years of declining health. he was 81

. Jerry Wexler once described Neville’s ensemble playing “as close to perfect as funk can get.” in addition to an early successful solo career, Neville founded the brilliant funk groups the Meters and the Neville Brothers. Among his many accolades, he won three Grammys, earned a lifetime Achievement Award last year from the recording Academy, and in 2002 was given a lifetime Achievement Award in Music by OffBeat Magazine. Neville announced his retirement last December.

“Art’s playing was the rock of Gibraltar,” said Jimmy Ballero, who played guitar in the earliest version of the Neville Brothers and can be heard on the group’s first album. “In terms of New Orleans music history and influencing other musicians, he was way, way up there. Art made the musicians around him better. he was easy to work with because he told you what to play. he rarely soloed. He played rhythm and filled in the cracks. He never overplayed. That’s why Allen [toussaint] used him so much. Art didn’t get in the way; he always had good ideas that just added to what was going on in the studio.

“Art was great singer, and he had a real low tone. he loved to play standards and all the old doo-wop stuff. some nights, between the band’s funk sets, Art would stay behind the keyboard and play that old stuff just by himself. he was just a great cat to work with.”

Neville was born December 17, 1937 at New Orleans&rsqu

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