Monday, April 22, 2024

RIP Rudy Isley, 84, of the Isley Brothers, 60s Hits “This Old Heart of Mine,” “Twist and Shout” Led to Unprecedented Rock and Soul


Rudolph Isley died over the week. He and his brothers Ernie and Ronnie, and O’Kelly, were soul and rock pioneers in the 60s and 70s and keep going even today.

Rudy was 84 and died of natural causes, according to his brothers.

The Isley Brothers were famous first for two singles that became pop-rock-soul classics with similar titles: “Shout” and “Twist and Shout.” The former was featured 15 years after its release in the movie, “Animal House.” The latter became an even bigger hit by the Beatles, and then the Beatles’ version was a hit in “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.”

But the Isleys didn’t stop there. They made a brief stop at Motown and recorded “This Old Heart of Mine (Been Broke a Thousand Times)” which has been covered many times including by Rod Stewart.

The left Motown and developed a funky sound immediately with “It’s Your Thing.” But it was 1973 when they hit their stride with “Who’s That Lady”? The A side was part 1 and B side was part 2. The full length album version is masterpiece of funk, soul, and rock, with the Isleys’ searing guitars rivaling anything by Santana, Clapton, or Harrison.

Just to show their range, the Isleys covered “Summer Breeze” by Seals and Crofts, and it’s one of the great R&B records of all time.

Not long after came “Fight the Power,” in 1975, a funk record of rebellion that Public Enemy later turned into their own hit at the start of rap. But it’s based on the Isleys’ song. That album also featured one of the great slow R&B mid tempo love songs, “For the Love of You.” Whitney Houston later recorded it and had a hit.

The Isleys have had a lots of legal problems. They were scrappy, not smooth like a Motown or Stax group. I think they kind of frightened the rest of the R&B world. They were tough. But I hung out with them this past winter at the Musicares dinner, where they performed “This Old Heart of Mine,” and they were still wearing their shiny gold and silver 70s futuristic suits, and playing their hearts out. It’s their thing.

RIP Rudolph Isley.

Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman began his Showbiz411 column in April 2009 after 10 years with Fox News, where he created the Fox411 column. His movie reviews are carried by Rotten Tomatoes, and he is a member of both the movie and TV branches of the Critics Choice Awards. His articles have appeared in dozens of publications over the years including New York Magazine, where he wrote the Intelligencer column in the mid 90s and covered the OJ Simpson trial, and Fox News (when it wasn't so crazy) where he covered Michael Jackson. He is also the writer and co-producer of "Only the Strong Survive," a selection of the Cannes, Sundance, and Telluride Film festivals, directed by DA Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus.

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