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Art Neville: In Memoriam Playlist

Art Neville in 2014.
Erika Goldring
/
Getty Images
Art Neville in 2014.

Art Neville's life in music can be described as a straight line, connected directly to rock and roll's first notes. In the first half of the 1950s, musicians were recording R&B tracks — the foundations of rock and roll — at Cosimo Matassa's J&M Studios, led of course by Fats Domino, who recorded his first record there in 1949. Art was never a Fats, but nonetheless was foundational to helping shape the contours of popular music.

Although his early recordings did not break out of New Orleans, and time on the road with proto-rockstar Larry Williams ("Slow Down," "Dizzy Miss Lizzie") kept his profile low as well, Art became widely known following The Meters' self-titled first album in 1969. And then, of course, he later saw his shadow lengthen throughout a long recording career with his brothers in The Neville Brothers, who had been playing and recording for years before their first album as a group. Art sings on some of these tracks, but pay most attention to the organ and piano, lyrical and funky. Always his.

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Lauren Onkey is the Senior Director of NPR Music in Washington, DC. In this role, she leads NPR Music's team of journalists, critics, video, and podcast makers, and works with NPR's newsroom and robust Member station network to expand the impact of NPR Music and continue positioning public radio as an essential force in music.