Rudolph Isley, one of the founding members of the Isley Brothers, has passed away at the age of 84. Known for his backing vocals on the group’s iconic hits, Rudolph leaves behind a music legacy that will be cherished by fans worldwide. His brother Ronald Isley expressed his grief, saying, “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, along with his brothers Ronald, Vernon, and O’Kelly, formed the Isley Brothers when they were just teenagers in Cincinnati back in 1954. Sadly, Vernon’s life was cut short when he was killed in a bike accident the following year. The remaining brothers briefly disbanded but eventually regrouped with Ronald taking the lead vocals and Kelly and Rudolph providing support.
While Rudolph didn’t often take the lead on vocals, he played a crucial role in the group’s success. He contributed to songwriting and provided backing vocals on many of their hits, including “That Lady,” “Nobody But Me,” and “Testify,” which featured a young guitarist named Jimi Hendrix.
Why he left the music industry?
Throughout the years, the Isley Brothers went through various genre shifts, from funk and disco to quiet storm and R&B. Rudolph remained dedicated to the group, even as younger brothers Marvin and Ernie joined in the late 1960s.
However, in 1989, Rudolph decided to leave the music industry and pursue a career as a Christian minister. This marked the end of his tenure with the Isley Brothers. Although he occasionally reunited with his brothers over the years, he was notably absent when they were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1992.
In recent months, Rudolph found himself embroiled in a legal battle with his brother Ronald over the rights to the Isley Brothers name. While the details of the dispute remain unclear, it is a sad end to their relationship.
With Rudolph’s passing, only Ronald and Ernie remain as the surviving members of the Isley Brothers. Fans and fellow musicians have expressed their condolences and paid tribute to Rudolph Isley. Musician Questlove tweeted, “RIP Rudolph Isley. The Isley Brothers are one of the most important groups of all time.” Another fan wrote, “Thank you for the incredible music and memories. Rest in peace, Rudolph.”
The iconic singer died on Wednesday in Illinois, although the cause of his death is still unclear. However, it is believed that he suffered a heart attack.