George Joseph Porter Jr. (born December 26, 1947) is an American musician, best known as the bassist and singer of The Meters. Along with Art Neville, Porter formed the group in the mid 1960s and came to be recognized as one of the progenitors of funk. The Meters disbanded in 1977, but reformed in 1989. Today the original group still plays the occasional reunion but the Funky Meters, of which Porter and Neville are members, most prominently keeps the spirit alive.
Porter has his own group the Runnin' Pardners, and also other projects such as The Trio with Johnny Vidacovich, New Orleans Social Club, Deep Fried and Porter Batiste Stoltz. He has been performing and recording with wide range of artists including Soul Rebels Brass Band, Dr. John, Paul McCartney, Robbie Robertson, Willy DeVille, Robert Palmer, Patti Labelle, Jimmy Buffett, David Byrne, Johnny Adams, Harry Connick Jr., Earl King, Warren Haynes, Tori Amos, and Snooks Eaglin among many others.
Porter joined John Scofield's Piety Street Band in 2008 to tour and to record. Jon Cleary and Ricky Fataar are also members of this band. In 2010, he replaced Reed Mathis in Bill Kreutzmann's newest band, 7 Walkers. Also in 2010 he performed with Runnin' Pardner at New Orleans' Voodoo Experience.
Early life and career with the Meters
Porter's parents were both avid lovers of music. His father frequently listened to Duke Ellington and his mother sang in the local church choir. He grew up in New Orleans next to future Meters bandmate, Joe "Zigaboo" Modeliste, and the two became friends when George was 10 years old. As teenagers, they played jam sessions together with Porter playing a box guitar. Porter was inspired to play bass guitar by another New Orleans native, Benjamin "Poppi" Francis who also gave Porter some lessons on the instrument. When Porter was still in his teens, he sat in with Earl King. After one of the shows, Art Neville came up to him saying he was trying to start a band and asked if he would like to join. Porter agreed spawning the beginnings of The Meters. At first the band was known as Neville Sound and consisted of seven men including Cyril and Aaron Neville as vocalists and Gary Brown on saxophone. After a short time, however, the band was trimmed down to four core members - Art Neville, Zigaboo Modeliste, Leo Nocentilli and Porter Jr. The four were playing six nights a week at a Bourbon Street bar called Ivanhoe when they were approached by Allen Toussaint and asked if they wanted to sign a record deal. After the deal, the label wanted the band to change their name to something that better reflected their sound. They settled on "The Meters." By the early seventies, Porter was touring coast to coast with The Meters. In 1975, they were touring as the opening act to the Rolling Stones. Porter has said that the best moment in his musical career is when he and the other Meters were opening for the Stones in Paris in 1976. The crowd started to boo them, when Keith Richards and Mick Jagger came out in support of The Meters and told the crowd to shut up and listen to the music. He said that moment kept The Meters alive for the time being By 1977, however, the band broke up due to personal differences. After the breakup, Porter Jr. formed a band called Joyride.
After the Meters
Porter played with Joyride and with many other New Orleans musicians in the 1980s. In 1989, Porter reunited with Art Neville and Leo Nocentelli as The Meters, replacing Joe Modeliste on drums with Russell Batiste Jr. In 1990, he started a band called The Runnin Pardners; a band that is still playing today. Also in the 1990s, Porter became a highly coveted bass player in the studio playing with artists like David Byrne and Tori Amos In 1994, Porter and Neville re-collaborated to form the band The Funky Meters to carry on The Meters sound. Art and George were joined by Brian Stoltz on guitar and Russell Batiste Jr. on drums. Stoltz left the band in 2007 but rejoined in 2011 and the band still plays today.
2000 to present
In the year 2000, the original four Meters reunited for a show at the Warfield in San Francisco. Modeliste wanted to make the reunion a permanent one but the other members and their management objected. In 2006, however, The Meters performed at the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival. This was the first "Jazzfest" since Hurricane Katrina so the fact that The Meters reunited for it meant a lot to the city. In 2012, Porter, Leo Nocentelli, Joe Modeliste, and Phish keyboardist Page McConnell performed two concerts as The Metermen. Limited shows followed in 2013 and 2014 with two more night shows during Jazz Fest. Since Hurricane Katrina, Porter has done some activist work with other New Orleans musicians informing people of the dangers of eroding wetlands threatening the future of the city. Porter still tours consistently with the Runnin Pardners, Joyride, and The Funky Meters. He plays sporadically with the four original members of The Meters, now known as The Original Meters and also frequently collaborates with other musicians, many of whom are from New Orleans.