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The Isley Brothers

The Isley Brothers

Fact Sheet

Musical genre:R&B, Soul  
The Isley Brothers were American R&B and soul singers, originally beginning their musical career in Cincinnati in the early 1950s. Brothers Ronald, O'Kelly, Rudolph and Vernon began recording in 1957, with a series of doo wop singles that failed to attract attention. Their most well-remembered song is "Shout", which came out of a performance of "Lonely Teardrops" in Washington DC in 1959. They randomly interjected the line "You know you make me want to shout" to tremendous audience acclaim. After signing with RCA Records (a scout was in the audience), they were told to construct the first single out of the line. The result was not financially successful at the time, but has become a beloved an oft-covered song by legions of other artists.

1962 saw the Isley Brothers release "Twist and Shout", a moderate hit of The Topnotes song later made famous by The Beatles. In 1964, a then-unknown guitarist named Jimmy James began playing in their backing band, making his recording debut on "Testify". James eventually began his own career under the name Jimi Hendrix. After joining with Motown, the Isley Brothers recording "This Old Heart of Mine (Is Weak for You)", a hit in England in 1967.

After a spell living in England, the Isley Brothers returned to the US and released "It's Your Thing", a popular record nationwide. After adding a few more family members and friends to the group, the Isley Brothers began moving towards rock and roll, covering "Lay Lady Lay" (Bob Dylan), "Spill the Wine" (Eric Burdon & War) and "Love the One You're With" (Stephen Stills). In the early 1970s, the Isley Brothers released several more hits and began moving towards disco. Their career was mostly over, in spite of several moderate R&B hits throughout the later 70s and 1980s. The group was later inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and was also inducted into the Vocal Group Hall of Fame in 2003.