Rudolph Isley Dies: Founding Member Of The Isley Brothers Was 84

Rudolph Isley, a founding member of the Grammy-winning Isley Brothers who helped create some of the most memorable songs in American musical history, has died. His brother Ron confirmed the news to Deadline. Rudolph Isley was 84.

In a statement provided to Deadline, Ron Isley said of his brother’s passing, “There are no words to express my feelings and the love I have for my brother. Our family will miss him. But I know he’s in a better place.”

The Isley Brothers have had various lineups through the years, but Rudy was with the band from its beginnings in the late 1950s to his retirement from music in 1989, when he took up a Christian ministry. During that time, they recorded such classics as “Shout,” cowritten by Rudy, which in 1959 became their first single to chart on the Billboard Hot 100. The record sold over a million copies. The group went on to release the top 20 single “Twist and Shout” and “This Old Heart of Mine (Is Weak for You).” In 1970, the group released “It’s Your Thing,” for which it won a Grammy in the category of Best R&B Vocal Performance by a Duo or Group.

The group has sold over 18 million units in the United States alone. They are among the few groups ever to have hit the Billboard Hot 100 with new music in six different decades. Sixteen of their albums charted in the Top 40 and thirteen of those albums have been certified gold, platinum or multi-platinum by the RIAA. The brothers were inducted (by Little Richard) into Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1992 and received the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 2014.

The Isley Brothers’ musical and cultural influence is vast. Rod Stewart covered “This Old Heart of Mine” in 1975. He rerecorded it with Ron in 1989 and that version hit number 10 on the US Billboard Hot 100.

In 1993, their “Footsteps in the Dark” was sampled by Ice Cube for his hip-hop classic “It Was a Good Day.” The following year, their “Between the Sheets” was sampled by The Notorious B.I.G. in “Big Poppa.” “Luxurious” from Gwen Stefani’s 2004 solo debut Love. Angel. Music. Baby. also benefited from a prominent sample of “Between the Sheets.” Aaliyah included a cover version of the group’s “(At Your Best) You Are Love” on her debut album.

The group’s music has been featured endlessly in films and on tv shows, many of them classics in their own right. Some highlights: Ticket to Paradise (2022), The Tender Bar (2021), The Blacklist (2021), Uncle Drew (2018), Sausage Party (2016), Dancing With the Stars (2014), The Heat (2013), Scandal (2012), The Simpsons (2010), Superbad (2007), The Wire (2006), Wedding Crashers (2005), Anchorman (2004), Boys Don’t Cry (1999), Rush Hour (1998), Out of Sight (1998), Friday (1995), Menace II Society (1993), The Wonder Years (1990), Cheers (1986) and Animal House (1978).

Earlier this year, Rudy sued Ron seeking a judgement that he was a 50% owner in The Isley Brothers band name. The legal filing seeks “an accounting and payment of Plaintiff’s share of the proceeds that Defendant has allegedly received from exploitation of the Mark (band name).”

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