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Isley Brothers, The

Group that is made of brothers from the Isley family who were born in Cincinnati, Ohio, and who started singing in church from an early age.   Prior to forming The Isley Brothers the older brothers, O’Kelly, Ronald, Rudolph and Vernon would sing gospel together.

Vernon died in 1955, in a bicycle road accident, after which O’Kelly, Ronald and Rudolph started performing as a doo-wop group.  They moved to New York in the late late 1950s and, after becoming popular with their audiences when performing concerts, they wrote their first chart song “Shout”.  This has since had several cover versions recorded and was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 1999.

By now the family moved to Engelwood, New Jersey and in the 1960s the brothers signed with the Motown label and saw further chart hits with “Twist and Shout”, which was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 2010, and “This Old Heart of Mine (Is Weak For You)”.  They had wanted to write, record and produce their own material so they started their own label T-Neck Records.  Before long they had released “It’s Your Thing” which gained them their first Grammy Award.

Also in the ’60s they took a homeless guitarist into their home and asked him to play on stage and record with them.  Just two of these recordings were “Move Over and Let Me Down” and “My Little Girl”.  This guitarist just happened to be the legendary Jimi Hendrix who went on to have his own major solo success.

In 1973 the vocal trio expanded to 5 brothers after the younger Ernie on lead guitar and drums and Marvin on bass guitar were included along with Chris Jasper, who was Rudolph’s brother-in-law, on keyboards.  The group expanded their style and they saw possibly the height of their success with albums such as 3+3, which produced the hits “That Lady” and a cover of “Summer Breeze”,  Between the Sheets and The Heat Is On, which reached No. 1 on the Billboard 200 chart.  They continued with Harvest for the World in 1976 followed by Go For Your Guns and Showdown.

In 1983 Chris Jasper, along with Ernie and Marvin, formed the splinter group Isley-Jasper-Isley.  Three years later the original trio of O’Kelly, Rudolph and Ronald lost O’Kelly when he died of a heart attack in 1986.  The remaining duo released two albums before Rudolph retired to become a Christian minister.  Rudolph died in October 2023 when he was 84 years old.  Isley-Jasper-Isley broke up in 1987 and Chris Jasper left to become a solo artist and producer and start his own record label.  Chris has since released at least 14 of his own albums and the R&B chart No. 1 song “Superbad”.

Although going through major changes, Ronald and Ernie then continued The Isley Brothers’ success with albums that include Mission to Please, Eternal, which produced the 20 chart hit “Contagious”, and Body Kiss between 1996 and 2003. in 2019 they were were presented with th National R&B Music Society’s Lifetime Achievement Award.

The Isley Brothers have made history with their music having charted over a period of eight decades and selling more than 18 million records in the USA alone.   Thirteen of their sixteen chart albums have achieve gold, platinum or multi-platinum certification  and they were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1992.  In 1997 they became one of Hollywood’s Rockwalk, in 2003 they were inducted into the Vocal Group Hall of Fame and in 2014 received a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award.

The Isley Brothers recordings
Shout (O’Kelly Isley, Ronald Isley,Rudolph Isley)
RCA Victor 47-7588 (US single)