The next version of the Isleys - as brothers Ernie (guitar, drums), Marvin (bass, percussion), and brother-in-law Chris Jasper (keyboards) joined up - took the band into uncharted waters. In the early-'70s, black artists and producers like Norman Whitfield, George Clinton, Curtis Mayfield, Isaac Hayes, Gamble & Huff and the Isleys simultaneously elongated their music, as album replaced single as the basic unit of musical currency. The Isleys created a heavy, funky bass-and-psychedelic guitar (from Ernie) sound that became extremely popular with black and white audiences alike.
The sound really came into its own with 1973's 3+3 album, which made the top 10 and spawned the hit single "That Lady." The Heat Is On went all the way to No. 1 in '75, proving that the world was ready for black rock from someone other than Jimi Hendrix (who had toured with the Isleys in the mid-'60s).
The band regularly hit the Top 10 throughout the '70s (Harvest For the World, Go For Your Guns, Showdown, Go All the Way) before Ernie, Marvin and Jasper left to form Isley, Jasper, Isley in the '80s. That trio reunited with Ronald and Rudolph under the Isley Brothers rubric in '91.
As other musical families have fallen by the wayside, the Isley Brothers have found a way to stay strong for 50 years. Their success in performing, business, writing and production is unique - with hits in SIX decades - and continues into the third millennium. Their latest album is Body Kiss, with Ronald and Ernie remaining active and R. Kelly doing most of the writing and producing.