By Kevin Goins
FAREWELL to RUDOLPH ISLEY (4/1/1939 – 10/11/2023), the second oldest Soul and Funk’s famous family, THE ISLEY BROTHERS. Rudolph was 84 when he passed.
Born in Cincinnati, Ohio, he along with brothers O’KELLY (RIP) and lead singer RONALD emerged onto the music scene during the mid-late 1950’s. Through the decades of hits, the brothers Isley went through many reinventions from street-corner sounds to Brill Building pop to Motown before finally landing on their own musical platform, T-Neck Records.
From there, things got mighty funky – especially when younger siblings MARVIN (RIP), ERNIE and brother-in-law CHRIS JASPER came on board during the now-legendary “3+3” era (1969-1983). During his later years, Rudolph became an ordained minister but still made occasional appearances with Ronald and Ernie at events.
Rudolph’s look became distinctive during the 3+3 years, with the goatee (later a beard – both shorn after leaving the group) and his trademark walking cane – which Ronald later adapted when his big brother had retired.
For those who may wonder how Rudolph sounded on records, listen closely to the Isley classics “SHOUT” and “TWIST AND SHOUT”. Those high pitched “WOOOOO’S” – that was him. Also listen closely to any Isleys tune with backing vocals in the higher register – again, Rudolph.
Sincere condolences to his wife, Elaine Jasper, brothers Ronald, Ernie and Chris.
Thank you, Rudolph Bernard Isley, for making music so very soulful. You will be missed.