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Rudolph Isley, Co-Founder of the Iconic Isley Brothers, Passes Away at 84

The Isley Brothers in 1969 (Left to right: Rudolph, Ronald and O'Kelly Isley). Photo Courtesy T-Neck Records
Rudolph Isley, a trailblazing co-founder of the legendary R&B group The Isley Brothers, has passed away at the age of 84. The iconic singer died on Wednesday in Illinois, with reports suggesting a heart attack as the cause. His passing marks the end of an era in the world of music, leaving a profound legacy.

As a teenager, Rudolph Isley embarked on his musical journey alongside his brothers O’Kelly, Vernon, and Ronald in their hometown of Cincinnati. They initially began performing gospel music in various churches, soon transitioning into a versatile act that would leave a lasting mark on the music industry.

In the words of his brother Ronald, "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."

Rudolph Isley's daughter Elaine released a statement, saying, "Rudolph Isley, a founding member of the world-famous Isley Brothers, died peacefully in his sleep on the morning of October 11, 2023. He died at his home, with his devoted wife Elaine by his side. They had been married for 68 years. Rudolph was a deeply religious man who loved Jesus."

The Isley Brothers made their mainstream breakthrough with the timeless classic "Shout," first released in 1959. The song's enduring popularity was further solidified in 1978 when it became immortalized in the film "Animal House." Since then, it has remained a cherished anthem at sporting events across the nation.

In addition to "Shout," the Isley Brothers amassed an impressive catalog of hits, including "Twist and Shout," "It's Your Thing," "That Lady" and "Fight The Power."

Notably, their track "Contagious" climbed the charts in 2001, making history by securing the record for the longest span on Billboard's Hot 100 singles chart — a remarkable 42 years of chart-topping influence.

The Isley Brothers' journey was not without its ups and downs, including a brief hiatus following the tragic death of Vernon, who was struck by a car while riding his bike at the age of 13. However, the brothers regrouped and pursued various musical genres in New York City, ultimately reshaping the landscape of pop, R&B and soul.

In 1989, Rudolph Isley followed a different calling, leaving the group to fulfill his dream of becoming a Christian minister. Despite his departure, he continued to reunite with his brothers periodically, and in 1992, they received the highest honor when they were inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.

The news of Rudolph Isley's passing coincides with a legal dispute between him and his younger brother, Ronald, concerning The Isley Brothers' trademark. Rudolph, who had been married to Elaine Jasper since 1958, is also survived by the couple's four children Elizabeth, Valerie, Elaine and Rudy, along with several grandchildren.

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