Rudolph Isley of The Isley Brothers Passes Away at 84

From church hymns to tragic loss: The Isleys' start

by Nouman Rasool
Rudolph Isley of The Isley Brothers Passes Away at 84
© Kevin Winter/Getty Images

Renowned singer-songwriter Rudolph Isley, a pivotal figure in the formation of the iconic R&B ensemble, The Isley Brothers, has passed away at the age of 84. The news of his demise came to light on Wednesday, with official confirmation relayed to USA TODAY by a representative for The Isley Brothers.

TMZ was the initial outlet to break this news. The exact cause of his death remains undisclosed. Rudolph's sibling, Ronald Isley, expressed his deep grief, saying, "Words fail to capture the depth of emotion and love I hold for my brother.

His absence will deeply affect our family, but there's solace in knowing he's found peace."

Isley Brothers' Humble Beginnings

The illustrious journey of The Isley Brothers began in Cincinnati in 1954. Initially, the group consisted of brothers Rudolph, Marvin, O'Kelly, Ronald, and Vernon Isley.

Their humble beginnings saw them singing in churches. Unfortunately, in 1955, tragedy struck when Vernon, aged just 13, was fatally hit by a car while cycling in the vicinity of their residence. Two years later, with the blessings of their parents, the remaining siblings relocated to New York.

Ronald took on the mantle of the lead vocalist, and the band signed with the prestigious RCA Records, releasing their debut album in 1959. Rudolph showcased his prowess as a songwriter, penning the iconic "Shout" in 1959, which later became synonymous with the comedy "Animal House" in 1978 and is still a staple at sporting events.

Through the years, The Isley Brothers scaled new heights, churning out hits like "Twist and Shout," "It's Your Thing," "That Lady," and "Fight The Power." 1973 saw Marvin, Ernie, and brother-in-law Chris Jasper joining the group's ranks.

Rudolph's contribution was pivotal, co-writing many of these hits. The group's unparalleled success spanned decades. Their song "Contagious" in 2001 marked a notable achievement: a chart span of 42 years on Billboard's H*t 100 singles chart.

However, by the late '80s, Rudolph decided to embark on a spiritual journey, transitioning into Christian ministry. Their achievements are numerous: Grammy awards, induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1992, and a Lifetime Achievement award from the Recording Academy in 2014.

Moreover, in June 2022, they were honored by the Songwriters Hall of Fame. Despite the accolades, not everything was smooth sailing. A recent dispute arose in March when Rudolph filed a lawsuit against Ronald over rights to The Isley Brothers' trademarked name, as reported by Billboard. Rudolph insisted on shared ownership rights and a portion of the revenues derived from it.