But long before then, the brothers were involved in music. The Meters formed in 1965, led by Art on keyboards and vocals, and later including percussionist/vocalist Cyril. They had some R&B hits, but they were best known for backing other artists, for which they were thrice nominated for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, including this past year.
Meanwhile, Aaron had hits going back to 1960. His biggest solo record was Tell It Like It Is [LISTEN], a #2 pop smash in 1967.
The first Neville Brothers music I heard regularly was the second LP, Fiyo on the Bayou, from 1981. I didn’t know then that, of the three songs that got lots of airplay on my favorite radio station at the time, Q104, two – Hey Pocky Way [LISTEN] and Fire on the Bayou [LISTEN] – had been Meters songs; the third song was Sweet Honey Dripper [LISTEN].
They were never a hits group but were a very popular touring band. Their albums from 1989, Yellow Moon, and 1990, Brother’s Keeper, were the most successful; LISTEN to the title track of Yellow Moon [LISTEN].
Aaron, by contrast, WAS more commercially successful, as a solo artist. His duet with Linda Ronstadt, Don’t Know Much [LISTEN], went to #2 in 1989.
Got to see the Neville Brothers on Thursday, August 6, 2009, at River Front Park in Albany, doing a mixture of Meters, Neville Brothers, and Aaron Neville songs, plus covers such as the Temptations’ Ball of Confusion [LISTEN].