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Meters

The Meters were a seminal American funk band from New Orleans, Louisiana active from the 1960s until 1977. Like the Funk Brothers and Booker T. and the MGs, they are among the "unsung" progenitors of rhythm and blues and funk music. Their influence was widespread among their contempories and still affects current artists, and they are a legend in their hometown (no small feat, considering the musical talent that hovers in and around New Orleans). However, they never received significant mainstream recognition beyond Louisiana.

Art Neville, the group's frontman, launched a solo career in the mid-1950s New Orleans, while still in high school. The Meters originally formed in 1965, with Art on keyboard and vocals, Neo Nocentelli on guitar, George Porter Jr. on bass and Joseph "Zigaboo" Modeliste on the drums. Art's brother Cyril later joined on percussion and vocals. They became the house band for Allen Toussaint and his Sansu Enterprises record label.

The Meters released "Sophisticated Cissy" and "Cissy Strut" in 1969. These major R & B chart hits were followed the next year by the classics "Look-Ka Py Py" and "Chicken Strut." After changing labels in 1972, the Meters had some difficulty returning to the charts, but they played a significant role on several important records, working with Dr. John, Ernie K. Doe, Paul McCartney, King Biscuit Boy, Labelle and Robert Palmer, among others.

In 1974, they were invited by Paul McCartney to play at the release party for his Venus and Mars album aboard the Queen Mary in Long Beach, California. Mick Jagger of The Rolling Stones was in attendance at the event, and was greatly taken with The Meters and their sound. They were subsequently invited to open for the Rolling Stones on their 1975 American tour. That same year, the Meters recorded one of their most beloved and successful albums, Fire On The Bayou.

From 1976 until their breakup in 1977, they played in The Wild Tchoupitoulas with George & Amos Landry and the Neville Brothers. Because Allen Toussaint claimed the rights to the name "The Meters", the band played under various other names and in various combinations for the rest of the decade.

After an informal jam session during the 1989 New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival, the members of The Meters decided to reform. Modeliste was replaced with David Russell Batiste Jr., a long-time collaborator with Allen Toussaint who had also worked with Robbie Robertson and Harry Connick Jr.

In 1994, the departure of Leo Nocentelli led to inviting old friend Brian Stoltz into the fold as guitarist. Stoltz had been the guitarist for The Neville Brothers during the '80s, and during the '90s had done session work on records with Bob Dylan, Edie Brickell, Dr. John and Linda Ronstadt, among others.
Under this new line up, the band was renamed to the Funky Meters.

The original members of the Meters (including Modeliste and Nocentelli) also reform occasionally for shows. To differentiate from the Funky Meters, they call themselves the Original Meters. User-contributed text is available under the Creative Commons By-SA License; additional terms may apply.