Hip Tip From Leo Nocentelli

To many, Leo Nocentelli is the king of funk guitar. As the primary songwriter in the Meters during the ’60s and ’70s, Nocentelli reinvented the sound of New Orleans. Such luminaries as Joe Cocker, the Neville Brothers, Robert Palmer, and Albert King have covered his songs. In 2005, Nocentelli reunited with his old Meters mates, and they are touring to rave reviews.

“Based on my experience, songwriting is the key to developing a unique style,” says Nocentelli. “Growing up and gigging around New Orleans, I absorbed every style like a sponge—from rock to jazz to R&B. When I began writing songs, I forgot about all of that, and I just let my own thing come out naturally. ‘Sophisticated Cissy’ and ‘Cissy Strut’ were two of the first songs I wrote, and after people heard them live, they’d say, ‘That’s the funkiest stuff I’ve ever heard!’ But it wasn’t until we recorded those songs with the Meters, and I heard them played back in the studio for the first time, that I realized how unique the sound and style was. I started writing more songs in that style, and I’ve been the funk guy ever since.”