New Orleans legend and all-around funk pioneer Art Neville, of Neville Brothers fame, died on Monday at the age of 81.
TMZ, citing his family, adds that Neville's health had been declining in recent years. Neverthless his longtime manager, Kent Sorrell, told the outlet that Art's death was a "peaceful" one, and also said that he died at home while his wife Lorraine was by his side.
He announced his retirement in December 2018. Nicknamed Poppa Funk, Neville had long been a prominent fixture and representative of the Big Easy funk scene as a singer, songwriter, and keyboardist. In addition to being one of the five Neville Brothers, he was also a founding member of the Meters and performed with their spinoff group the Funky Meters.
Art was perhaps best known for providing vocals for the Hawketts for the Mardi Gras anthem "Mardi Gras Mambo," which still gets play time though he wrote and recorded it back in the mid-'50s when he was still a teenager.
Neville grew up in New Orleans, and began performing with his brothers as a pianist at an early age. He joined the U.S. Navy in 1958, and came back to music four years later in 1962. As a lead artist he released a number of singles, and would come to form the Neville Sounds (which later became the Meters). That band provided backup to a number of notable acts, including Lee Dorsey and the Pointer Sisters.
In the late '70s the Neville Brothers were formed, and they'd go on to release a number of albums throughout the '80s and '90s, with their last one coming in 2004. In 1989 Neville, along with the other Neville Brothers, received a Grammy for Best Pop Instrumental Performance. He, along with some other aritsts, would go on to acquire a second in 1996 for Best Rock Instrumental Performance for the Stevie Ray Vaughan tribute "SRV Shuffle."