The Isley Brothers Biography
The Isley Brothers are an American family musical group from Cincinnati, Ohio. They began in the 1950s as a vocal trio consisting of brothers O’Kelly Isley Jr., Rudolph Isley, and Ronald Isley. With an eight-decade existence, the group has one of the “longest, most influential, and most diverse careers in the pantheon of popular music.”
The brothers began performing together in 1954, emulating groups like Billy Ward and His Dominoes and The Dixie Hummingbirds. They eventually got a seat on Ted Mack’s Amateur Hour, where they won the competition (their prize was a watch). With Vernon on lead vocals, the group quickly began touring throughout the eastern United States, performing in a variety of churches. The quartet performed gospel music with a fourth brother, Vernon, until Vernon’s death a few years later. The group experienced their first hits after moving to New York City in the late 1950s, and catapulted to notoriety in 1959 with their fourth record, “Shout,” written by the three brothers, which became their first track to chart on the Billboard Hot 100 and sold over a million copies. The trio recorded songs for various labels in the 1960s, including the top 20 single “Twist and Shout” and the Motown single “This Old Heart of Mine (Is Weak for You),” before recording and releasing the Grammy Award-winning hit “It’s Your Thing” on their own label, T-Neck Records.
The trio began experimenting with diverse musical styles, integrating elements of rock and funk as well as pop balladry, after being influenced by gospel and doo-wop music. In 1973, the addition of younger brothers Ernie Isley (lead guitar, drums) and Marvin Isley (bass guitar), as well as Rudolph’s brother-in-law Chris Jasper (keyboards, synthesisers), transformed the original vocal trio into a complete band and contributed to the group’s peak success. They released a succession of top-selling albums throughout the next decade, including 3 + 3, Between the Sheets, and The Heat Is On, the latter of which peaked at number one on the Billboard 200 list.
In 1983, the six-member band dissolved, with Ernie, Marvin, and Chris Jasper creating the short-lived Isley-Jasper-Isley. O’Kelly, the oldest member, died in 1986. Following that, Rudolph and Ronald performed two albums as a duo before Rudolph resigned to the Christian ministry in 1989. Following a number of lineup changes, the remaining duo of Ronald and Ernie attained widespread popularity with the albums Mission to Please (1996), Eternal (2001), and Body Kiss (2002). (2003). Eternal gave birth to the top 20 smash “Contagious.” As of 2021, the Isley Brothers are still performing with Ronald and Ernie.
In the United States alone, the Isley Brothers have sold over 18 million units. With their first major hit charting in 1959 (“Shout”) and their last in 2001 (“Contagious”), they are one of the few groups to have had new music chart on the Billboard Hot 100 in six different decades. Sixteen of their albums charted in the Top 40, with thirteen of those albums earning gold, platinum, or multi-platinum certification from the RIAA. Several musical institutions have recognised the brothers, including the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, which inducted them in 1992. They were honoured into the Vocal Group Hall of Fame in 2003, five years after being added to Hollywood’s Rockwalk. In 2014, they were honoured with the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award.
|Brother, Brother, Brother|
|Givin’ It Back|
|Get into Something|
|The Brothers: Isley|
|It’s Our Thing|
|Soul on the Rocks|
|This Old Heart of Mine|
|Twisting and Shouting|
|Twist & Shout|
Frequently Asked Questions
The Isley Brothers?
Is an American musical group originally from Cincinnati, Ohio, that started as a family band in 1954.
How Many Records Have The Isley Brothers?
The Isley Brothers are an American musical group originally from Cincinnati, Ohio, that started as a gospel group but found fame with their R&B and rock and roll recordings. The group has sold over 100 million records worldwide.
What Song Made The Isley Brothers Famous?
The song that made the Isley Brothers famous is “Shout.” It was originally released in 1959 and became a No. 1 R&B hit. It has since been covered by many artists, including the Beatles and Otis Redding.
Why Did The Isley Brothers Break Up?
The Isley Brothers were an American R&B group from Cincinnati, Ohio, originally consisting of brothers O’Kelly Isley, Jr. (1937–1986), Rudolph Isley, Ronald Isley and Vernon Isley. The group has had several line-up changes over the years, with the most successful period being the early 1960s when Ernie Isley, Chris Jasper and Marvin Isley were members.
What Was The Isley Brothers Biggest Hit?
The Isley Brothers’ biggest hit was “Shout,” which reached number one on the R&B charts and number 47 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1959.