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.
Following the Grammy-winning “It’s Your Thing
” (1969), younger brothers 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 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.
By his early teens, Ronald Isley was singing regularly with his brothers in church tours and first appeared on TV on Ted Mack's Amateur Hour
. In 1957, 16-year-old Isley and his two elder brothers O'Kelly and Rudy then 19 and 18 moved to New York to pursue a music career. While in New York, Isley and his brother began recording doo-wop for local labels before landing a major deal with RCA Records in 1959, where the trio wrote and released their debut single "Shout
In 1969 after ending a brief tenure with Motown, the Isleys re-formed their T-Neck Records label in order to produce themselves. In 1973, the group's style and sound changed following the release of the 3 + 3
album where brothers Ernie Isley and Marvin Isley and in-law Chris Jasper joined them full-time.
After O'Kelly Isley's death in 1986 and Rudy Isley's departure to the ministry in 1989, Ronald has carried on with the Isley Brothers name either as a solo artist or with accompanying help from younger brothers, particularly Ernie. In 1990, Isley scored a top-ten duet with Rod Stewart with a cover of his brothers' hit "This Old Heart of Mine (Is Weak for You)
", and in 2003 Ronald recorded a solo album, Here I Am: Bacharach Meets Isley
, with Burt Bacharach
. In addition, Ronald Isley became a sought-after hook singer for R. Kelly, Warren G, 2Pac and UGK. Isley released his first solo album Mr. I
on November 30, 2010. The album includes the first single "No More
" that debuted at number 50 on the Billboard 200. It was his first solo album to crack that chart.
In 2010, Isley received a Legend Award at the Soul Train Music Awards, and in 2013, Ronald released his second solo album This Song Is For You
Including his work on songs recorded by the Isley Brothers and R. Kelly, Isley's singles appeared on the US Billboard Hot 100 charts for eight decades, from the 1950s (1959's "Shout"
) through the 2000s (2001's "Contagion
"). His 2015 appearance on Lamar's "How Much a Dollar Cost
" peaked just under the Hot 100 at 109, and his 2021 Isley Brothers track "Friends and Family
" was a Top 50 hit on the R&B and Hip-Hop chart.