The youngest member of the family music group the Isley Brothers and its bass guitarist, Marvin began playing bass guitar while in high school and by the end of the decade was being tutored and mentored by his elder brothers alongside elder brother Ernie
and their friend, Chris Jasper
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. By 1971, Marvin began performing bass guitar on The Isley Brothers' album, Givin' It Back
. Within two years, he became an official member of the group.
Following the Grammy-winning “It’s Your Thing
” (1969), 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 14 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.