The Isley Brothers have moved fluidly through time and a wide range of musical genres (including R&B, rock 'n' roll, funk, psychedelic rock and smooth urban soul) to create an essential body of work.
Born and raised in Cincinnati, Ohio, brothers O'Kelly (December 25, 1937-March 31, 1986), Rudolph (born April 1, 1939), Ronald (born May 21, 1941) and Vernon (who died in '55 bicycle accident) Isley first began performing as a gospel group in the early-50s. They moved to the New York-area in '57 to record doo wop for Teenage Records.
Their first successful release, the album Shout, came out in 1959 and was produced by Hugo & Luigi. The title track, the famous raw, uproarious call-and-response screamer, only went to No. 47 on the pop chart at the time, but established the group's rock 'n' roll credentials and has sold over a million copies in the ensuing years, in addition to becoming the centerpiece of the movie Animal House.
Recalls Luigi Creatore: "We brought 'Shout' down to the review board at RCA and we played it. A guy sitting there said, 'I don't understand what they are saying.' I said, 'Well the kids understand.' He said, 'But I don't understand this whole record, let's hear the other side.' So, we played the other side, which was a continuation. He said, 'I don't understand it.' I said, 'If you were fourteen years old you would understand it.'"
In addition to the title track, the original version of "Twist and Shout" also appeared on the album - both became rock 'n' roll party staples.
After casting about in the mid-'60s (recording one hit for Motown, "This Old Heart of Mine" in '66), the Brothers returned with a vengeance in '69 writing and producing the Grammy-winning "It's Your Thing" for their own T-Neck Records.