The Neville Brothers didn't start performing under that name until 1977, but had been R and B luminaries since 1954, when vocalist and keyboardist Art
's high-school band The Hawketts recorded the carnival hit 'Mardi Gras Mambo
'. His brothers, saxophonist Chas
and vocalist Aaron, joined briefly, Aaron assuming leadership when Art left for the US Navy in 1958. By 1962, Aaron
had put his solo career on hold to join Art in The Neville Sounds
, and eight-piece which evolved- minus Aaron- into the legendary session group The Meters
(cited as an influence by acts from Coolio
The family reunited (this time with youngest sibling, vocalist and percussionist, Cyril) in 1975, backing Mardi Gras 'tribe' The Wild Tchoupitoulas. In 1977, they were were performing together as The Neville Brothers, although commercial success for their soulful harmonizing proved elusive. They were dropped by Capitol after the Disco-flavoured flop The Neville Brothers (1978) and the acclaimed Flyo On The Biyou (1981) was similarly underbought.
Eventually, after years of valiant obscurity, the platinum touch of Daniel Lanois- then producer du jour thanks to U2's The Joshua Tree and Dylan's Oh Mercy- propelled Yellow Moon (1989) into the public eye and 1990's Brother's Keeper into the US Top 100.
The parallel solo career of Aaron flourished with 1989's Grammy-winning duet with Linda Ronstadt, 'Don't Know Much' and the platinum-selling The Grand Tour (1993). The group appeared on The Carnival, a 1997 solo set by Wyclef Jean of The Fugees.