Rudolph Isley, Isley Brothers Co-Founder, Dead at 84

Rudolph Isley, Isley Brothers Co-Founder, Dead at 84

Rudolph Isley, a founding member of The Isley Brothers, has died. He was 84.

A representative confirmed to ET that the singer passed away on Wednesday. A cause of death was not disclosed. TMZ was the first to report the news.

“There are no words to express my feelings and the love I have for my brother,” Rudolph’s brother, Ronald Isley, said to ET in a statement. “Our family will miss him. But I know he’s in a better place.”

Rudolph, along with his brothers Ronald, Vernon, and O’Kelly, formed the Isley Brothers as teenagers in Cincinnati in 1954. After Vernon died in a 1955 car accident, the band relocated to New York City, where they would eventually sign with RCA Records and land their breakout hit “Shout.”

Over the course of their career, the group produced hits like “Twist and Shout,” “This Old Heart of Mine” and “It’s Your Thing.” In 1964, they formed their own record company, T-Neck Records, and even recruited Jimi Hendrix to briefly play guitar for their band. 

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In 1973, The Isley Brothers expanded to include their younger brothers Ernie and Marvin, and brother-in-law Chris Jasper.

Rudolph left the group after their album Spend the Night, released in October 1989, to carry out his goal of being a Christian minister. He reunited with his brothers several times over the years, including when they were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1992.

The Isley Brothers have been nominated for multiple GRAMMY awards and received a Lifetime Achievement award from the Recording Academy in 2014.

The band was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in June 2022, along with Mariah Carey, Annie Lennox and Dave Stewart of Eurythmics, Steve Miller, Pharrell Williams and Chad Hugo of The Neptunes, Rick Nowels and William “Mickey” Stevenson.

According to Billboard, the group “absolutely tore it up” with a career-spanning hits medley. Ernie reportedly shared that when he first heard the Notorious B.I.G.’s “Big Poppa,” which samples the group’s 1983 jam “Between the Sheets,” he cracked up laughing and predicted it would be a bigger hit than the track it sampled. He noted that there were no hard feelings and thanked the late icon, even rapping a bit of Biggie’s verse while performing the Isley original.

With Rudolph’s death, the only surviving Isley Brothers are Ronald and Ernie.


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