HITS Daily Double


Charles Neville, the saxophonist and second oldest of the Neville Brothers, died today in Massachusetts, where he lived in Huntington. The cause was pancreatic cancer. He was 79.

His brother, Aaron Neville, announced his death to WWL-TV.

Like his brothers Art, Aaron and Cyril, he worked with R&B musicians starting in the 1950s, touring with Jimmy Reed, B.B. King, Larry Williams and others, long before uniting forces as a family band that is one of the most influential musical acts in Louisiana history.

He also battled heroin addiction for decades, landing in the Louisiana State Penitentiary at Angola in the 1960s where pianist James Booker and drummer James Black were also incarcerated. After his release, he moved to New York, returning to New Orleans to make The Wild Tchoupitoulas album in 1976 alongside his brothers and uncle, George Landry.

From there, they formed the Neville Brothers, signing with Capitol Records, which released their debut in 1978. It was their early live shows, however, which united New Orleans funk, pop ballads, second line rhythms, do-wop and folk rock in a unique package, that attracted fans such as The Rolling Stones, Robert Plant and Elvis Costello and earned them a reputation as one of the best live acts at the time.

They released nine studio albums, having their longest run with A&M (1981-95), which put out their Grammy-winning “Healing Chant” on 1989’s Yellow Moon. The group broke up in 2012.

Most recently, he had been performing in his brother Aaron's band.

He released a solo album in 1990 with his band George Landry. Among his survivors is daughter Charmaine Neville, a popular local singer.