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Rudolph Isley, founding member of legendary soul and funk band Isley Brothers, dies at 84

The musical group's biggest hits included rhythm and blues classics such as 'Shout' and 'Twist and Shout.'

Rudolph Isley, founding member of legendary soul and funk band Isley Brothers, dies at 84
Cover Image Source: American vocal trio the Isley Brothers, UK, 24th October 1964. From left to right, they are brothers O'Kelly Isley Jr., Ronald Isley and Rudolph Isley. (Getty Images | Photo by Evening Standard/Hulton Archive)

Rudolph Isley, a founding member of the legendary soul and funk band The Isley Brothers has passed away at the age of 84. The late musician helped write some of the group’s biggest hits, including “Shout,” “Fight the Power” and “That Lady.” Their rendition of “Twist and Shout” is a hugely popular track that was even covered by the Beatles.

According to The New York Times, Rudolph is survived by his brothers Ernie and Ronald as well as his wife, Elaine Jasper—whom he married in 1958—and their children, Rudy Jr., Elizabeth, Valerie and Elaine and several grandchildren.



 

The Cincinnati native died peacefully in his sleep on Wednesday morning in Illinois, his daughter Elaine confirmed to PEOPLE in a statement. "He died at his home with his devoted wife Elaine by his side. They had been married for 68 years," she shared. "Rudolph was a deeply religious man who loved Jesus."

Rudolph's brother and bandmate Ronald added: "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."

Image Source: (L-R) Ron, Rudolf and Ernie Isley of the Musical Group The Isley Brothers perform on stage at the 2004 Black Entertainment Awards held at the Kodak Theatre on June 29, 2004 in Hollywood, California. (Getty Images | Photo by Kevin Winter)
Image Source: (L-R) Ron, Rudolf and Ernie Isley of the Musical Group The Isley Brothers perform on stage at the 2004 Black Entertainment Awards held at the Kodak Theatre on June 29, 2004 in Hollywood, California. (Getty Images | Photo by Kevin Winter)

Many people paid tribute to the legendary musician after hearing the news of his passing. Grammy Award-winning singer and actress Stephanie Mills (@PrettyMill1) tweeted on X, "My condolences and prayers to the @isleybrothers family on the loss of their beloved brother Rudolph Isley. I performed on the @apollotheaterstage with them when I was 11 years old. My first professional show I opened up for them when I was a teenager."

A fan of the group, @JoyceHutchens3, added: "Rest In Power Rudolph Isley, founding member of my very favorite singing group of all time." Another fan @Kemani_0718 shared, "Rudolph Isley was what Ronald called the strength of the group. The ultimate energizer bunny that kept the crowd amped up and moving during their live shows. A key piece to the Isleys puzzle. He will be missed dearly."



 

The music legend performed rhythm and blues classics such as “Shout” as well as the funky hit “It’s Your Thing,” with the band that comprised O'Kelly Isley, Ronald Isley and Rudolph. The trio began singing in church with their eldest brother, Vernon, but sadly he died at age 13 in 1955.

By 1973, the Isley Brothers expanded to include their younger brothers Ernie and Marvin and brother-in-law Chris Jasper. After Ernie and Marvin joined the group, the musicians had even greater success with such singles as "That Lady" and "Fight the Power (Part 1)" and million-selling albums as "The Heat Is On" and "Go for Your Guns."

However, the group suffered many losses and heartbreaks too. In 1986, O'Kelly Isley passed away from a heart attack and three years later Rudolph left the group in 1989 to become a Christian minister. He was among the Isleys inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1992. Marvin Isley died in 2010 from complications of diabetes.

Image Source: The Isley Brothers (L-R O'Kelly Isley, Ernie Isley, Chris Jasper, Rudolph Isley, Ronald Isley and Marvin Isley) pose for a portrait in February 1978. (Getty Images | Photo by Michael Ochs Archives)
Image Source: The Isley Brothers (L-R O'Kelly Isley, Ernie Isley, Chris Jasper, Rudolph Isley, Ronald Isley and Marvin Isley) pose for a portrait in February 1978. (Getty Images | Photo by Michael Ochs Archives)

The group won many fans over for their unique rock ’n’ roll-esque style of funk and soul. The talented group dabbled in multiple genres, from doo-wop to gospel to quiet-storm ballads. “Music and faith, they just run through our blood,” the late Rudolph was quoted as saying in the “It’s Your Thing” liner notes. “I may have stopped singing pop music, but I will always be an Isley Brother.” RIP, icon.



 

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