The Isley Brothers were an American musical family group signed to Motown in the late 1960s.
O’Kelly Isley, Rudolph Isley, Ronald Isley and Vernon Isley formed the group in 1954, originally singing gospel music. Vernon was sadly killed in a car crash, and the group then disbanded, but got back together in 1957. Their first success was with their 1959 song “Shout” (which has since sold over a million copies).
They continued recording into the 1960s for several different labels, but success proved somewhat elusive and they formed their own label, T-Neck (guitarist Jimi Hendrix even joined their band). Succcess continued to elude the group, and (after Jimi Hendrix left them) they signed with Motown in 1965.
They had a hit with their 1966 song “This Old Heart Of Mine (Is Weak For You)” but became frustrated by a lack of creative control (and further success) and at being treated like a second-class act (!?). They left the company in 1968, resurrected their T-Neck label and signed several distribution deals with larger labels; their 1969 song “It’s Your Thing” (which was an artistic response to Motown chief Berry Gordy‘s demanding hold on his artists) became a massive hit.
Subsequently Motown argued that the group had actually recorded the song while still under their Motown contract in an attempt to bring them back to the label, although a later court decision eventually ruled in the Isleys’ favor (naughty Berry Gordy!).
Younger brothers Ernie Isley and Marvin Isley and brother-in-law Chris Jasper later joined and the group continued their success throughout the 1970s with songs like “Summer Breeze” and “That Lady”. Pioneers in many different genres, including funk, R&B and soul, they continued their successful career into the 1980s, 1990s and 2000s, even collaborating with R&B artist R. Kelly towards the end of the century.
Despite Ernie and Marvin Isley and Chris Jasper briefly leaving to start their own group (Chris Jasper continues to record as a solo artist), and the deaths of Marvin and O’Kelly Isley – and even a short prison sentence for tax evasion – the brothers Ronald and Ernie (as The Isley Brothers) are still active today.
The Marvels of The Isley Brothers
Marvellous Motown currently recommends three songs by The Isley Brothers – click on the link above for our archive or click on a specific song below:
- THIS OLD HEART OF MINE (IS WEAK FOR YOU)
- MY LOVE IS YOUR LOVE (FOREVER)
- TELL ME IT IS JUST A RUMOUR, BABY