2016 Berklee Honorary Doctorate: The Isley Brothers

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“Shout,” “It’s Your Thing,” “Summer Breeze,” “Harvest for the World” are just some of the many great hits this group of brothers from Lincoln Heights, a suburb outside of Cincinnati, Ohio made famous. The group started as a trio with O’Kelly Isley, Jr., Rudolph Isley, and Ronald Isley. The group had a long and very diverse career that explored with many different styles through their various active decades. Vernon Isley would eventually join his brothers; when he was part of the group, the music was very gospel-oriented. He unfortunately passed away only a few years after joining.

1959 is remembered as a big year for jazz, but the release of “Shout” also took place and sold millions of copies. This was the big breakthrough for the brothers, who eventually released hit after hit. “Twist and Shout” came out, followed by “This Old Heart of Mine (Is weak for you)”, which was a Motown hit. Another big hit was “It’s Your Thing,” which won a Grammy award.

T-Neck Records was a record label that the Isleys eventually established. In 1973, Ernie Isley, Marvin Isley and Chris Jasper went from a trio to leading a larger band, releasing albums that would top the charts such as The Heat Is On and Between the Sheets. In 1983, they formed a new trio that they named Isley-Jasper-Isley. In 1986, O’Kelly Isley died. Eventually the group became a vocal duo, featuring Rudolph and Ronald. Rudolph would eventually retire and join the Christian ministry. Another duo was formed by Ronald and Ernie, who would release two albums: Eternal (2001) and Body Kiss (2003) featuring the hit song “Contagious”. To this day, Ronald and Ernie continue to tour intermittently.

The group’s career is pretty impressive: four Top 40 singles on the US Billboard Chart, 16 albums in the Top 40 (thirteen of them went gold, platinum, or multi-platinum), and a 1992 addition to the Rock ‘n’ Roll of Fame.

The Isley Brothers – Shout
The Isley Brothers – Twist and Shout
The Isley Brothers – This Old Heart of Mine
The Isley Brothers – It’s Your Thing
The Isley Brothers – Summer Breeze
The Isley Brothers – Contagious


          February 10, 2018