Rudolph Isley dies aged 84

The Isley Brothers co-founder will be much missed

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Rudolph Isley has died aged 84.

The musician, who co-founded The Isley Brothers, also co-wrote many of their biggest songs. His death was announced through the group’s social channels.

“Heaven has gained another angel. Our hearts are heavy as we announce the passing of our beloved brother, Rudolph Isley. As we navigate through this deep sorrow, we kindly ask for understanding and respect for our family’s privacy during this challenging time. Remember to hold your loved ones close. We will miss our brother but we know he’s in a better place. Forever in our hearts.”


Heaven has gained another angel. Our hearts are heavy as we announce the passing of our beloved brother, Rudolph Isley….

Posted by The Isley Brothers on Thursday, October 12, 2023

Originally a vocal group comprising brothers O’Kelly, Rudolph, Vernon and Ronald, The Isley Brothers were formed in Cincinnati in 1954. The following year, Vernon was killed in a car accident. The group eventually reunited as a trio with Ronald on lead vocals and by the early ’70s, the Isleys had expanded to include Ernie and Marvin Isley and Chris Jasper.

Speaking to Uncut in September 2015, Malcolm Cecil – the Stevie Wonder collaborator and synthesiser pioneer who engineered the Isley’s “Harvest For The World” – recalled Rudolph’s place within the Isley Brothers’ hierarchy:


|O’Kelly was the one that held everything together. He was the guy who would be the one who set up the dates; he was the one who signed all the work orders. Rudy really wanted to be the lead singer, but he didn’t quite have Ron’s voice and power. He wanted to be out front doing his thing, so he was fairly flamboyant. He was also the guy who collected the money at the gigs so he had a gun, a Magnum.”

As well as 1976’s “Harvest For The World”, the band enjoyed a string of hits, including “Shout!“, “Twist And Shout“, “This Old Heart Of Mine (Is Weak For You)“, “Love The One You’re With“, “Summer Breeze” and “Fight The Power“.

When O’Kelly died in 1986, Rudolph left the music industry to become a Christian minister, only occasionally returning to the band.


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