THE ISLEY BROTHERS
The Isley Brothers inducted into the Rock N’ Roll Hall of Fame back in 1992 are one of the artists you’re likely to hear more than just a few songs from on THE BEAT.
Today we invite you to check out a great concert from 2005 in Colombia.
ABOUT THE ISLEY BROTHERS
Originally from Cincinnati, Ohio, that started as a vocal trio consisting of brothers O’Kelly Isley Jr, Rudolph Isley and Ronald Isley. The group has been cited as having enjoyed one of the “longest, most influential, and most diverse careers in the pantheon of popular music”. Grammy Award winning and Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductees the Isley Brothers wrote and recorded hit songs including Shout!, That Lady, Twist and Shout, It’s Your Thing, Fight the Power, I Wanna Be With You, Between the Sheets, Contagious, This Old Heart of Mine, Voyage To Atlantis, Footsteps in the Dark and many others.
From the Fifties onward, the Isley Brothers have been a musical institution whose prolific career has explored the musical intersection of gospel, R&B, rock, soul, funk and disco.
A family-based group since their inception, the Isley Brothers originated with four gospel-singing brothers: Ronald, O’Kelly, Rudolph and Vernon (the last of whom was killed in a bike accident in 1955).
The three surviving brothers left their hometown of Cincinnati in 1957 for New York City, where they recorded several songs for small labels. Their breakthrough came with their fervent recording of “Shout,” an original inspired by a line from Jackie Wilson’s “Lonely Teardrops” and shot through with raucous, gospel-style testifying.
The period of 1959 to 1962 was a creatively fruitful one for the Isleys that yielded such staples of the rock and soul canon as “Respectable” (later a hit for the Outsiders), “Nobody But Me” (re-cut in a Top 10 version by the Human Beinz) and “Twist and Shout” (an enduring R&B classic recorded by the Beatles and played by countless cover bands). Throughout the Sixties, the Isleys recorded for a variety of labels, including RCA, Atlantic, Scepter/Wand, United Artists, their own T-Neck and Motown’s Tamla subsidiary. Their brief stay at the latter yielded the melodic soul classic “This Old Heart of Mine,” written and produced by the Motown production team of Holland-Dozier-Holland. As a historical footnote, a pre-psychedelic Jimi Hendrix played guitar for the Isley Brothers in 1964, and his style can be heard in the playing of younger brother Ernie Isley, who joined the group at the end of the decade.
The Isley Brothers took business matters into their own hands in 1969 by re-establishing their own label, T-Neck (named for their home base of Teaneck, New Jersey). The group also expanded its lineup with the addition of three younger family members: brothers Ernie and Marvin and cousin Chris Jasper. The new arrangement immediately yielded the biggest hit of their career, “It’s Your Thing,” which won a Grammy for Best R&B Vocal Performance. This marked the start of a period in which they dominated the black-music realm, placing a staggering fifty singles on the R&B chart between 1969 and 1988.
Throughout the Seventies, the Isley Brothers’ rock-disco fusion—driven by a propulsive beat, Ernie Isley’s snaky funk guitar lines and the smooth, sinuous vocal blend of the three elder Isleys—generated considerable crossover appeal. The Isleys took the novel approach of giving a hardcore R&B treatment to rock songs such as Seals and Crofts’ “Summer Breeze” and Stephen Stills’ “Love the One You’re With.” The group also connected with originals such as the unrelenting, funky “Fight the Power,” “The Pride,” “Take Me to the Next Phase” and “I Wanna Be With You”—all of them Number One R&B hits. On the quieter side, the Isleys recorded a number of sexy, seductive ballads such as “Don’t Say Goodnight (It’s Time for Love)” and “Between the Sheets.”
The mid-Eighties brought changes to the Isley Brothers’ platinum empire. The younger band members struck out on their own as Isley-Jasper-Isley in 1984. Two years later, O’Kelly suffered a fatal heart attack. Remaining members Ronald and Rudolph Isley continued as a duo. In 1990 Ronald Isley returned to the charts with a Top 10 remake of “This Old Heart of Mine,” sung as a duet with Rod Stewart.
In 1991 Ernie Isley and Marvin Isley reunited and recorded the album Tracks of Life, which was released in 1992. That same year, the Isley Brothers were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame by Little Richard. In 1996 they recorded Mission to Please, which became the group’s first million-selling album in thirteen years. In 2001 Ronald and Ernie recorded Eternal, which sold 2 million copies.
On June 6, 2010, Marvin Isley died of complications from his diabetes. Ronald and Ernie have continued to perform together.
Inductees: Ernie Isley (born March 7, 1952), Marvin Isley (born August 18, 1953, died June 6, 2010), O’Kelly Isley (born December 25, 1937, died March 31, 1986), Ronald Isley (born May 21, 1941), Rudolph Isley (born April 1, 1939), Vernon Isley (born 1942, died 1955), Chris Jasper (born December 30, 1951)
Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award
Grammy Hall of Fame (Twist and Shout, Shout)
Grammy Award for Best R&B Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocals (It’s Your Thing)
BET Lifetime Achievement Award
Soul Train Music Award for Best R&B/Soul Single – Group, Band or Duo
Soul Train Music Award for Quincy Jones Award – Career Achievement
Soul Train Music Award for Best R&B/Soul Album – Group, Band or Duo
NAACP Image Award – Hall of Fame Award
American Music Award for Favorite Soul/R&B Band/Duo/Group
Rhythm and Blues Foundation Pioneer Award
Current: Ronald Isley & Ernie Isley
Former: O’Kelly Isley, Jr., Rudolph Isley, Vernon Isley, Marvin Isley, Chris Jasper & Everett Collins
THE ISLEY BROTHERS ONLINE
THE ISLEY BROTHERS ON FACEBOOK
Find The Isley Brothers playing in many of the mixes we feature each weekend on our Friday Night Jams and Saturday Night Live Ain’t No Jive Chicago Dance Party. Click here for mixes