In their 31-year history, The Meters have grooved their way around the globe. They have toured with such talents as The Rolling Stones, and have been a studio band for such diverse artists as Dr. John, Paul McCartney, Robert Palmer, and Patti Labelle.
Considered by many to be the founding fathers of funk, The Meters created a unique sound that lasted through the sixties and seventies and was reborn in the late eighties. Their trademark sound blends funk, blues, and dance grooves with a New Orleans vibe.
The history of this native New Orleans band dates back to 1967, when keyboardist Art Neville recruited George Porter, Jr., Joseph (Zigaboo) Modeliste and Leo Nocentelli to form The Meters. When Neville formed the band, he had already been a prominent member of the New Orleans music community for 15 years. He was still in high school when, leading The Hawkettes, he cut the 1954 hit single "Mardi Gras Mambo", which is still pressed every year at Carnival time.
After working with Allen Toussaint on some Lee Dorsey tracks, The Meters were told to lay down some tracks of their own. Between 1967 and 1969, they recorded four consecutive hit singles: "Sophisticated Cissy", "Cissy Strut", "Ease Back", and "Look a Py Py", which all reached the Top 10 on the R&B charts. Neville created a band that would rule the New Orleans music community for decades to come.
From 1971 to 1978 The Meters recorded five albums on the Warner/Reprise label. Cyril Neville, Art Neville's brother, joined the band in 1975 as a percussionist and vocalist for three of those albums, also recording the critically acclaimed The Wild Tchoupitoulas, which was recorded with Neville's uncle, Big Chief Jolly, the most celebrated member of the Mardi Gras Indians. Simultaneously, the band was widely heard playing on albums by Dr. John, Robert Palmer, King Biscuit Boy, Lee Dorsey, Allen Toussaint and a Mardi Gras single released by Paul McCartney and Wings.
In 1975, the Meters performed at a party for Paul and Linda McCartney aboard the Queen Mary in California. Shortly thereafter, The Rolling Stones requested that The Meters join them as an opening act on their (1975) American Tour and (1976) European tours-over 75 dates were played between both tours.
After twelve years and ten studio albums, The Meters disbanded in 1979 due to business problems.
The Meters have maintained an avid following of fans and other artists, and their music has been sampled by musicians around the world, including rap artists Heavy D, LL Cool J, and Queen Latifah. The Red Hot Chili Peppers pay homage to them in one of their hit songs, and bands such as the Grateful Dead, KVHW, Steve Kimock Band, Widespread Panic, Rebirth Brass Band and String Cheese Incident often played their music.
Musically, the next decade took the band members in different directions. Art Neville and Cyril Neville pioneered the internationally successful Neville Brothers, while Zigaboo Modeliste drummed for Keith Richards and Ron Wood on the New Barbarians Tour. George Porter, Jr. founded his first band, Joy Ride, and in 1990 recorded his first solo CD Runnin' Pardners for Rounder Records. George worked in the studio and toured with David Byrne, recorded with Robbie Robertson, and played on Harry Connick Jr.'s first funk/soul CD "She". In addition, George performed on three back-to-back Platinum CD's with Tori Amos. He has also released four CD's with his own with Runnin' Pardners.
The Meters reformed after an informal jam during the 1989 New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival. They were so pleased with their sound that they decided to regroup, but with a few changes. Joseph (Zigaboo) Modeliste was replaced by David Russell Batiste, Jr. on drums, a young, energetic drummer with his own distinct sound. Russell has recorded with Allen Toussaint, Robbie Robertson, Harry Connick, Jr.; performed on the last two Wild Magnolias Mardi Gras Indians' CD's and two unlicensed CD's of The Funky Meters featuring the JB Horns, recorded live in Switzerland (without Art Neville); and played on two CD's with Porter's band Runnin' Pardners.
Also, with the departure of Leo Nocentelli in 1994, the Funky METERS welcomed old friend Brian Stoltz into the fold as guitarist. Stoltz, for close to a decade, was the guitarist for The Neville Brothers during the 80's. The 90's brought Brian to play and record with artists Bob Dylan, Edie Brickell, Dr. John and Linda Ronstadt, to name a few. Stoltz says "To be home playing with old friends and playing the music I always thought was the best thing to ever come out of New Orleans is for me the most exciting experience of all".
After the change in personnel came the change in name. In 1994, they were officially christened The Funky Meters. This lineup carried the funk torch until the spring of 2007 when Stoltz departed to pursue his solo career.
March 2007 saw Art's son, Ian Neville take over guitar duties. Growing up in the Neville house of music, touring for three straight years with his uncles, The Neville Brothers, as well as his cousin and their new band, Ivan Neville's Dumpstaphunk, Ian was poised to step in to help bring the band into the future.
To further the fresh air blowing through the funky METERS musical landscape, 2007 has seen the band incorporate special guests such as Skerik (Critters Buggin', Les Claypool, Roger Waters) on horns and Derek Trucks (Allman Brothers) on lead guitar.