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Charles Neville (2018), saxophonist for the Neville Brothers

Getty Images / Tim Mosenfelder

Founding member of the influential New Orleans funk/soul band

Charles Neville, saxophonist and founding member of the Neville Brothers, has died at the age of 79, according to multiple news sources.

His brother Aaron Neville confirmed to WWL-TV in New Orleans that Charles died from pancreatic cancer in Massachusetts.

Charles and his brothers were born on December 28, 1938 in New Orleans and the Neville Brothers were a legendary band in their hometown.


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He started his musical career in the backing bands for iconic artists such as Jimmy Reed and B.B. King.

Charles had a drug addiction and spent some time in jail in the 1960’s for possession of marijuana. He would get clean in the 1980’s. 

In 1976, Charles and his brothers played on an album for his Uncle George Landry’s band, The Wild Tchoupitoulas. That would lead to the brothers starting their own group. 

They released their debut album on Capitol Records in 1978, mixing funk, New Orleans R&B and soul, receiving critical acclaim.

 

The Neville Brothers released many albums, worked with Keith Richards and Carlos Santana, and won a Grammy in 1989 for the song “Healing Chant” from their Yellow Moon album. 

Charles moved with his family to rural Massachusetts in the 1990’s. After the Neville Brothers ended in 2012, he continued to play with his brother Aaron and led his own jazz combo. 

Aaron paid tribute to his brother on social media: 

"Just want you to know that if I would’ve had the choice of picking my brothers, I would definitely choose you... You’ll always be in my heart and soul, like a tattoo. You helped to mold me into who I am today and I’ll always be thankful. I’ll always see your special infectious smile on the stage next to me, it would always give me a smile."

We invite you to share condolences for Charles Neville in his Guest Book.