Marvin Isley, one of the famous brothers
Terence McArdle, a Post staffer who is also a working singer/guitarist, reports on the death of Marvin Isley, one of the Isley Brothers:
Marvin Isley, 56, the bassist who helped the rhythm 'n' blues vocal trio the Isley Brothers reinvent themselves as a self-contained band and was featured on such hits as "That Lady," "Fight the Power," "Choosey Lover" and "Between the Sheets" died June 6 at a hospice in Chicago from complications of diabetes. Marvin joined the Brothers in 1972 when they were already well established as one of the most influential acts in soul and rock.
The original Isley Brothers trio, Ronald, Rudolph and O'Kelly Isley started as a Cincinnati gospel group in 1955, and the influence of the "church wrecking" style could be heard on such early hits as "Shout" (1959) and "Twist and Shout"(1962). They later recorded for Motown, briefly hired a young guitarist Jimi Hendrix (who was going by the stage name Jimmy James) for their road band in 1966 and, following the lead of Curtis Mayfield, started their own record company, T-Neck Records.
Anyone who was around in the late 1960s probably heard (or danced to) the Isleys' biggest hit in that era, "It's Your Thing" which was ubiquitous on the radio in 1968.
All that happened before younger brothers Marvin and Ernie joined the group.
In 1973, the trio added brothers Marvin on bass, Ernie on guitar and brother-in-law, Chris Jasper on organ. As a sextet and a self-contained band, they recorded the album "3+3" which included the hit "That Lady" (which most of us recall as "Who's That Lady?"). The infectious song, with Marvin Isley's kinetic bass grooves and Ernie Isley's stunning, Hendrix-influenced guitar work, gave notice of how mainstream soul was changing under the influence of Hendrix and such funk bands as Mandrill and Parliament/Funkadelic.
As hip-hop exploded in the last two decades, the 3+3 era Isley Brothers became one of the most sampled old-school soul acts. Public Enemy's "Fight The Power" (1989) borrowed not only samples but its title from the 1976 Isleys' song.http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PRkw9UnVhug More recently, Lil' Wayne snagged a piece of 1972's "Lay Away" for his "Receipt" (2005).
In 1984, the three younger members left to form Isley/Jasper/Isley, a short-lived funk band. The original trio continued without them until O'Kelly Isley's death in 1986. Around the same time, Rudolph Isley left the band to start a ministry. Eventually, Marvin and Ernie Isley rejoined although Marvin Isley retired from active performing in the 1990s when he was diagnosed with diabetes. The illness eventually forced doctors to amputate both his legs.
Guitarist Ernie and lead singer Ronald continued to perform in later years with other musicians as the Isley Brothers until Ronald Isley was charged with tax evasion in 2004 for which he was later imprisoned. He was released just this year. All six Isleys were inducted into the Rock'n'Roll Hall of Fame in 1992.
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