From Cincinnati, Ohio, the Isley Brothers were Initially a vocal trio made up of brothers O'Kelly Isley Jr.
, Rudolph Isley
and Ronald Isley
. They broke in 1959 with their first composition “Shout
,” also a big UK hit for Lulu. The first single for their own T-Neck label, 1964’s “Testify
,” also stands out for being one of Jimi Hendrix’s first recordings, as Hendrix recorded and toured with the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame vocal group.
Ernie Isley started playing drums at 12, and in 1968 got his first guitar. He played bass on the Isley Brothers' breakthrough funk smash "It's Your Thing
", released in 1969. He played electric guitar, acoustic guitar, and drums on the group's early 1970s albums Get Into Something, Givin' It Back
, and Brother, Brother, Brother
before fully joining the group in 1973, becoming a multi-instrumentalist playing acoustic guitar, electric guitar, drums and percussion.
Ernie co-wrote "Fight the Power (Part 1 & 2)", Harvest for the World", "Voyage to Atlantis", "(At Your Best) You Are Love", "Footsteps In the Dark", "Brown Eyed Girl", "That Lady", "Between the Sheets"
and "Take Me To The Next Phase
". His guitar riffs are recognizable on "Summer Breeze", "That Lady", "Voyage To Atlantis
" and "Choosey Lover
Following the Grammy-winning “It’s Your Thing
” (1969), Ernie and Marvin Isley
with brother-in-law Chris Jasper
who joined in 1971, the Isley Brothers, in varying configurations and incorporating different styles, wrote and recorded such hits as “Pop That Thang,” “That Lady,” "Fight the Power,” “For the Love of You
” and “Caravan of Love
,” with Ice Cube sampling their song “Footsteps in the Dark
” for his hit “It Was a Good Day”
and Notorious B.I.G. likewise sampling “Between the Sheets
” for his hit “Big Poppa
Influenced by gospel and doo-wop music, the group experimented with different musical styles incorporating elements of rock and funk as well as pop balladry.
Isley/Jasper/Isley was formed as a splinter group of the Iselys in 1984 by Chris Jasper, Ernie Isley and Marvin Isley, releasing three albums including Caravan of Love
, which featured the #1 out-of-the-box title hit, written and sung by Chris and subsequently covered by English recording group, the Housemartins, who made “Caravan
” an international #1 pop hit.
In 1987, Isley/Jasper/Isley disbanded and were subsequently inducted with the rest of the Isleys in 1992 to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and received the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in January 2014.
After the break-up of Isley-Jasper-Isley, Chris Jasper continued as a solo artist, multi-instrumentalist, and producer, forming his own independent record label, Gold City Records. He has since released 15 solo albums, including 4 gospel albums.
The oldest member of the Isley Brothers, O'Kelly, died in 1986 and Rudy and Ronald released a pair of albums as a duo before Rudy retired to a life in the Christian ministry in 1989. Ronald reconvened the group two years later in 1991 with Ernie and Marvin, who left the group five years later due to complications from diabetes and passed away in 2010.
Ronald and Ernie continue to perform under the Isley Brothers’ name.