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The Isley Brothers

First formed in the early '50s, the Isley Brothers enjoyed one of the longest, most influential, and most diverse careers in the pantheon of popular music -- over the course of nearly a half century of performing, the group's distinguished history spanned not only two generations of Isley siblings but also massive cultural shifts which heralded their music's transformation from gritty R&B to Motown soul to blistering funk. The first generation of Isley siblings was born and raised in Cincinnati, OH, where they were encouraged to begin a singing career by their father, himself a professional vocalist, and their mother, a church pianist who provided musical accompaniment at their early performances. Initially a gospel quartet, the group was comprised of Ronald, Rudolph, O'Kelly, and Vernon Isley; after Vernon's 1955 death in a bicycling accident, tenor Ronald was tapped as the remaining trio's lead vocalist. In 1957, the brothers went to New York City to record a string of failed doo wop singles; while performing a spirited reading of the song "Lonely Teardrops" in Washington, D.C., two years later, they interjected the line "You know you make me want to shout," which inspired frenzied audience feedback. An RCA executive in the audience saw the concert, and when he signed the Isleys soon after, he instructed that their first single be constructed around their crowd-pleasing catch phrase; while the call-and-response classic "Shout" failed to reach the pop Top 40 on its initial release, it eventually became a frequently covered classic.

Still, success eluded the Isleys, and only after they left RCA in 1962 did they again have another hit, this time with their seminal cover of the Top Notes' "Twist and Shout." Like so many of the brothers' early R&B records, "Twist and Shout" earned greater commercial success when later rendered by a white group -- in this case, the Beatles; other acts who notched hits by closely following the Isleys' blueprint were the Yardbirds ("Respectable," also covered by the Outsiders), the Human Beinz ("Nobody but Me"), and Lulu ("Shout"). During a 1964 tour, they recruited a young guitarist named Jimmy James to play in their backing band; James -- who later shot to fame under his given name, Jimi Hendrix -- made his first recordings with the Isleys, including the single "Testify," issued on the brothers' own T-Neck label. They signed to the Motown subsidiary Tamla in 1965, where they joined forces with the famed Holland-Dozier-Holland writing and production team. Their first single, the shimmering "This Old Heart of Mine (Is Weak for You)," was their finest moment yet, and barely missed the pop Top Ten.

"This Old Heart of Mine" was their only hit on Motown, however, and when the song hit number three in Britain in 1967, the Isleys relocated to England in order to sustain their flagging career; after years of writing their own material, they felt straitjacketed by the Motown assembly-line production formula, and by the time they returned stateside in 1969, they had exited Tamla to resuscitate the T-Neck label. Their next release, the muscular and funky "It's Your Thing," hit number two on the U.S. charts in 1969, and became their most successful record. That year, the Isleys also welcomed a number of new members as younger brothers Ernie and Marvin, brother-in-law Chris Jasper, and family friend Everett Collins became the trio's new backing unit. Spearheaded by Ernie's hard-edged guitar leads, the group began incorporating more and more rock material into its repertoire as the 1970s dawned, and scored hits with covers of Stephen Stills' "Love the One You're With," Eric Burdon & War's "Spill the Wine," and Bob Dylan's "Lay Lady Lay."

In 1973, the Isleys scored a massive hit with their rock-funk fusion cover of their own earlier single "Who's That Lady," retitled "That Lady, Pt. 1"; the album 3 + 3 also proved highly successful, as did 1975's The Heat Is On, which spawned the smash "Fight the Power, Pt. 1." As the decade wore on, the group again altered its sound to fit into the booming disco market; while their success on pop radio ran dry, they frequently topped the R&B charts with singles like 1977's "The Pride," 1978's "Take Me to the Next Phase, Pt. 1," 1979's "I Wanna Be With You, Pt. 1," and 1980's "Don't Say Goodnight." While the Isleys' popularity continued into the 1980s, Ernie and Marvin, along with Chris Jasper, defected in 1984 to form their own group, Isley Jasper Isley; a year later, they topped the R&B charts with "Caravan of Love." On March 31, 1986, O'Kelly died of a heart attack; Rudolph soon left to join the ministry, but the group reunited in 1990.

Although the individual members continued with solo work and side projects, and also experienced misfortune along the way, the Isley Brothers forged on in one form or another throughout the '90s and into the 21st century. In 1996, now consisting of Ronald, Marvin, and Ernie, they released the album Mission to Please; however, Marvin developed diabetes and left the band the following year -- the disease later necessitated the amputation of both his legs. Ronald and Ernie hooked up for the release of 2001's Eternal, a brand-new selection of R&B cuts featuring collaborative efforts with Jill Scott, Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis, and Raphael Saadiq. On that particular release, Ronald also introduced the alter ego Mr. Biggs. Body Kiss was released in 2003, followed by Baby Makin' Music in 2006, the year after Ronald was convicted of tax evasion charges. Experiencing his own set of serious health issues, Ronald was sentenced to prison and served the latter portion of his sentence at a halfway house in St. Louis, MO before being released in April 2010. On June 6 of that year, Marvin died of complications from diabetes at the age of 56. ~ Jason Ankeny, Rovi
full bio

Selected Discography

Comments

For The Love of You. : I love this song
Baby making music for reals
Saw what's left of the isleys brothers with bobby Womack (RIP) in Detroit at chene in 2012 what a great show
This song rite here.....smd h
Classic music the Isley Brothers, all that and more there music will put u in orbit.
escarzega
The Isley brothers are a great family, and had a great contribution to R&B music, Even my grandkids love their music, and I pray they pass that love on to their kids. Thank you Isley brothers...
skdavis_fran k i e
The Isley Brothers are a class act - no one comes close. I have totally enjoyed their music from the 60's on. Keep on Keepin' On!!
I am so very so very sleepy at this moment, so I do would like to say to everyone a good night, and sweet dreams to everyone.��




Luv the Isleys beautiful music.
Hello beloved Isley Brothers...K e e p singing that sweet soul
Love it.




I've always ride to the isley when im in my lolo
The bomb
don't read this because it actually works. You will be kissed by the nearest possible Friday by the love of your life. Tomorrow will be the best day of your life. However if you don't post this you will die in 2 days. Now you've started, so don't stop. This is scary. Put this on at least five songs in at least 143 mins. When your done press F6, and your loved name will appear on the screen in big letters. This is scary because it actually works
These bros are truly the best!!!!! Hall of famers !!!! Thank you so much!!!!!!
"Ohio(Machin e Gun)Live"Hom e
Stone-Cold Super-Badd Super-Star Soul-Brothaz
~H-Town~Groo v i n ' ~ W e - D o n ' t - S t o p - T h e - M u s i c ~
LOVE+s Disciple*978 * ~ 7 m 1 4 y ~
WHY?
teetee1255
IsleyBROTHER
Back in the day...... Lights off Some Isley in the back ground let's have fun......... . . the sky the limit
Between the sheets with a choosey lover . Let's make love tonight..... .
My husband and I love Between The Sheets.
Ain't nothing wrong with a little bump and grind lol
Isley Brothers music still stirs my soul when I hear them
chopticon22
Fhds ektlyu
ljmoses1
Old school slow jam...remind s me of slow dancing at basement parties in Chicago...(s l o w grind) ��
Brings back memories from child hood going to parties. Also reminds me of older aunts and uncles they loved them old skool.Now I see wat it is as I became an adult.
I've always ride to the Isely's when im on the highway. Nothing but Smooth Sailing
Luv Isley Brothers!
rogelio.sald a n a
Looks like Motown really f**ked over the Isley Bros.. Tragic history, but what did they expect from the world, should've stayed close to the Lord. Nice cautionary biography..
Isley brothers
I remember little Michael Jackson singing this when he was 11 years old and so was I! I couldn't believe what I was seeing! What a phenomenon and a gifted, talented vocalist he was even then!
Back in the day music
sing it Isley brothers you got that
The Truth....Be Choosey
Does us anybody feel me.
Summer Breeze....ta k e s me back to summers in Rosarito. Love Isley Brothers!!!
Love old school music
I love the Isley brothers?
Good soul song to listen to the Isley Brother's good grove.
Only when you care this is it.
the things we did to this song
Old school :)
canadyv0
Luther, Luther, Luther....ho w I miss you.
The Pride! When I was 12, I remember dancing to It's Your Thing in grade school and watching Michael Jackson at age 10 singing this same song! MJ WAS THE BOMB! Ronald Islet is a legend!
It's All Right Radio... absolute best!
Mmm I just can't get enough of the O'jays. Forever my favorite groups of all time.
World peace we aLl breath the SAmE AIR . DUD
Mr goodrich rideing in my bentley listening to all the songs
Yup love it jesse
Super-Badd Super-Star Soul-Brother ' z z z
T I B thanks for the memories now & then
*978*~ 5m14y~

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