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The Meters Biography

Home > Music > M > Meters, The > Biography

Birth Place: New Orleans, Louisiana
Years Active: 1969–1977, 1989-
Genres: R&B, Funk, New Orleans

The Meters is a funk band that formed in New Orleans, Louisiana in 1965. Art Neville, the group's frontman, launched a solo career around the New Orleans area in the mid-1950s while still in high school. The Meters formed in 1965 with a lineup of keyboardist and vocalist Art Neville, guitarist Leo Nocentelli, bassist George Porter Jr. and drummer Joseph "Zigaboo" Modeliste. They were later joined by percussionist/vocalist Cyril Neville.

The Meters soon became the house band for Allen Toussaint and his record label, Sansu Enterprises. Their 1969 self-titled debut album featured the hits “Cissy Strut” which reached #23 on Billboard Hot 100 Singles chart and “Sophisticated Cissy” which peaked at #34. “Look-Ka Py Py,” their second album, was released later in 1969. Its title track was another popular single. 1970 brought the band’s third album, “Struttin'” which included the well-received single, “Chicken Strut.”

Their 1972 album, “Cabbage Alley,” was their first album for the Reprise label after leaving the label that issued their previous LPs Josie Records when it went bankrupt in 1971. Featuring their popular songs, “People Say” and “Hey Pocky A-Way,” Reprise issued their album “Rejuvenation” in 1974.

In 1975 Paul McCartney invited The Meters to play at the release party for his “Venus and Mars” album aboard the “Queen Mary” in Long Beach, California. Soon after, The Rolling Stones invited the band to open for them on their Tour of the Americas '75 and Tour of Europe '76. That same year, the Meters recorded one of their most successful albums, “Fire on the Bayou.”

The Meters released the album, “Trick Bag,” in 1976. It included a cover of The Rolling Stones’ “Honky Tonk Women.” The title track was a cover of the Earl King single. Another album, “New Directions,” was released in 1977.

Art and Cyril Neville left the band in early 1977. After the Neville's departure, David Batiste, Sr. took over on keyboards while Willie West joined as the band's lead singer. Porter left the group later that year and by 1980 The Meters had officially broken up.

After the break-up, the Nevilles gained fame as part of The Neville Brothers, Modeliste toured with Keith Richards and Ron Wood, while Nocentelli and Porter became in-demand session players and formed new bands.

1989 brought Art Neville, George Porter Jr. and Leo Nocentelli together once again as The Meters, with drummer Russell Batiste Jr. joining the lineup. 1990 saw the appearance of The Meters’ studio album, “Good Old Funky Music.”

When Nocentelli left the group in 1994 they replaced him with guitarist Brian Stoltz, formerly of The Neville Brothers and renamed themselves The Funky Meters. The Funky Meters continued to play into the 2000s with Stoltz being replaced by Art Neville's son, Ian Neville, from 2007 to 2011 while he went to pursue a solo career. Stoltz returned to the band permanently in 2011.

A collection of rare and unreleased material, “Kickback” was released on the Sundazed label in 2001. An album of vintage rarities and non-album B-sides, “Zony Mash,” followed in 2003

In 2006 the original members of The Meters appeared at the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival. The Meters with Allen Toussaint and Dr. John performed at the Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival in Manchester, Tennessee in 2011.

The Funky Meters tour consistently performing songs by The Meters while The Meters perform sporadically. The lineup of Neville, Porter, Nocentelli and Modeliste typically bill themselves as The Original Meters to avoid confusion with The Funky Meters. When not performing with The Original Meters, guitarist Leo Nocentelli leads his own group, The Meters Experience which performs the music of The Meters.