Menu

The Isley Brothers

isley brother featured image final post

Biography

The Isley Brothers group was formed from Cincinnati, Ohio. Their father, O’Kelly Isley, Sr., a former United States Navy sailor and vaudeville performer and mother Sallye, guided the elder four Isley boys, Ronald, Rudolph, O’Kelley, and Vernon in their singing while at church. The brothers began performing together in 1954 and scored the opportunity to perform on Ted Mack’s Amateur Hour and they won the competition. They started to perform in a variety of churches. Sadly Vernon Isley was killed at age thirteen after getting hit by a car. This tragedy caused the group to stop performing. Eventually the group got back together with Ronnie as lead and decided to create popular so in 1957 they moved to New York. 

Their first records like “Angels Cried” and “The Cow Jumped Over the Moon” were produced by George Goldner. Two years later the brothers entered recording deal with RCA Records. Later that year the group recorded “Shout” which performed decently on charts. Other records with RCA failed to chart so in 1961 the left and signed with Scepter Records. In 1962, the brothers scored their first top 40 hit with “Twist and Shout”. They then moved to New Jersey and struggled to make another hit. After forming T-Neck Records in 1964 they brought Jimi Hendrix into the group as their lead guitarist and they recorded the song “Testify”. Hendrix accompanied another one of their singles, “Move On Over and Let Me Dance” but left them after the songs did not do too well in the charts in 1965. 

The brothers signed with Motown Records where they produced more successful recordings in comparison to their earlier ones but still struggled to provide a top 40 hit so hey left Motown in 1968 and reformed their T-Neck label that year. They issued “It’s Your Thing” which included the first appearance of Ernie Isley. The song was their biggest success to date. Ernie Isley and Marvin Isley and brother-in-law Chris Jasper joined the band after signing a distribution deal with Epic Records and made Ernie, Marvin, and Chris official members. In 1973, the Isleys released 3 + 3 and the album became their breakthrough hit, eventually selling over two million copies.

Next year Live It Up reached gold and in 1975, the brothers recorded one of their most successful recordings with The Heat Is On. The brothers would have more hit albums, including Harvest for the World, Go for Your Guns, and Showdown. The brothers’ final album in 1983 was Between the Sheets, sold more than two million copies. Shortly after the success of Between the Sheets, Ernie, Marvin, and Chris left the Isley Brothers due to a multitude of issues and formed Isley-Jasper-Isley.

In 1985, the trio of O’Kelly, Rudy, and Ronnie signed with Warner Bros. Records and released Masterpiece. Kelly Isley died shortly after. Then Ron and Rudy released the albums, Smooth Sailin’ (1987) and Spend the Night (1989). Rudy then retired from making music to begin gospel ministry. In 1991, Ron revived the group with Ernie Isley and brother Marvin and they released the album, Tracks of Life

Ron and Ernie became a duo once Marvin had his legs amputated. They released their best-selling album in years with the Eternal album in 2001. The hit single “Contagious”, made the Isley Brothers the only act to reach the Hot 100 during the 1950s, 1960s, 1970s, 1980s, 1990s, and 2000s. The duo released several albums in the following years until in 2007 Ron Isley’s was sentenced to three years in prison for tax evasion. Marvin Isley died in Chicago in 2010. In 2011, Ron and Ernie came back together and they have been performing on the road since. Ernie and Ronnie Isley released Power of Peace with music legend guitarist Carlos Santana in 2017.

Isley Brother Performances

Sampled Music

In 1993, Ice Cube sampled their song “Footsteps in the Dark” Ice Cube for his single “It Was a Good Day”.

In 1994, The Isley Brothers song “Between the Sheets” was sampled by The Notorious B.I.G. for his hit single “Big Poppa”.

R&B singer Aaliyah did a cover version of “(At Your Best) You Are Love” for her debut album in 1994.

Members: Past & Present

Ronald “Ronnie” Isley: 1954-present

O’Kelly “Kelly” Isley, Jr.: 1954-1986

Ernie Isley: 1973-1984, 1991-present

Rudolph “Rudy” Isley: 1954-1989, 2004

Chris Jasper: 1973-1984

Vernon Isley: 1954-1955

Marvin Isley: 1973-1984, 1991-1997

Discography

1959: Shout!

1962: Twist & Shout

1963: Twisting and Shouting

1966: This Old Heart of Mine

1967: Soul on the Rocks

1969: It’s Our Thing

1969: The Brothers: Isley

1970: Get into Something

1971: Givin’ It Back

1972: Brother, Brother, Brother

1973: 3 + 3

1974: Live It Up

1975: The Heat Is On

1976: Harvest for the World

1977: Go for Your Guns

1978: Showdown

1979: Winner Takes All

1980: Go All the Way

1981: Grand Slam

1981: Inside You

1982: The Real Deal

1983: Between the Sheets

1985: Masterpiece

1987: Smooth Sailin’

1989: Spend the Night

1992: Tracks of Life

1996: Mission to Please

2001: Eternal

2003: Body Kiss

2006: Baby Makin’ Music

2017: Power of Peace

Other Posts by the Author:

The Isley Brothers

Biography The Isley Brothers group was formed from Cincinnati, Ohio. Their father, O’Kelly Isley, Sr., a former United States Navy sailor and vaudeville performer and

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
Read More »

Let’s Get Funky

Funk and Its Beginnings Funk also referred to as party music emerged in the late 1960’s but didn’t become popular until the 70’s. It is

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
Read More »

The Isley Brothers

Origins of the Isley Brothers The Isley Brothers group was formed in Cincinnati, Ohio in 1954. Their career was sparked by their father who had

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
Read More »

Black and Blues

The Start of Blues Blues began in the black communities of the deep south with center origins in the Mississippi Delta. It was formed as

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
Read More »

Charlie Parker

Who is Charlie Parker? Charles Parker Jr was born on August 29, 1920, in Kansas City, Kansas. Charlie and his parents to Kansas City, Missouri

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
Read More »

The Swan Silvertones

The Start of The “Four Harmony Kings” The a capella quartet originally named the “Four Harmony Kings” was formed by Claude Jeter in 1938 in

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
Read More »

Bibliography

“Amoeba Music.” The Isley Brothers – Biography – Amoeba Music, www.amoeba.com/the-isley-brothers/artist/67863/bio.
 
Ankeny, Jason, and Jason Ankeny. “The Isley Brothers | Biography & History.” AllMusic, www.allmusic.com/artist/the-isley-brothers-mn0000766893/biography.
 
“Biography on the Isley Brothers – A Shout-Out to These R&B Rockers.” Celebrate Soully Oldies From Music’s Most Miraculous Hit Machine, www.soullyoldies.com/isley-brothers.html.
 
Britannica, The Editors of Encyclopaedia. “The Isley Brothers.” Encyclopædia Britannica, Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc., 29 Jan. 2019, www.britannica.com/topic/the-Isley-Brothers.
 
Nero, Mark Edward. “The Isley Brothers Are One of R&B’s Most Iconic Groups.” ThoughtCo, ThoughtCo, 24 Feb. 2019, www.thoughtco.com/the-isley-brothers-biography-2850615.
 
Productions, Pore-Lee-Dunn. The Isley Brothers, www.classicbands.com/isley.html.
 
“The Isley Brothers.” Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, www.rockhall.com/inductees/isley-brothers.
 
“The ISLEY BROTHERS Biography.” The Great Rock Bible, thegreatrockbible.com/portfolio-item/the-isley-brothers-biography/.
Print Friendly, PDF & Email