Next weekend marks the 80th birthday of Art Neville, one of the founding fathers of funk and the eldest member of one of New Orleans' most famous musical families. Nicknamed "Poppa Funk," Neville was born Dec. 17, 1937. One of his first recordings was "Mardi Gras Mambo," which he recorded in 1954 with The Hawketts, made up of several Walter S. Cohen High School classmates. After serving in the U.S. Navy, Neville returned home and assembled The Meters in 1965. The group featured Neville on keyboards and vocals, Leo Nocentelli on guitar, George Porter Jr. on bass and Joseph "Zigaboo" Modeliste on drums. Art's brother Cyril later joined on percussions and vocals. It was the house band for Allen Toussaint's recording studio. In the late 1970s, Neville and his brothers, Charles, Aaron and Cyril, gained international fame as The Neville Brothers. Art toured the country with both bands. This year, The Meters again were nominated for inclusion in The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, a testament to the group's impact on generations of musicians.
An earlier version misstated the authorship of "Mardi Gras Mambo." The Hawketts recorded the well-known 1954 version, but the song was written by Frankie Adams, Ken Elliot and Lou Welsh. It was first recorded as a country song by Jody Levens in 1953.