Marvin Isley (August 18, 1953- June 6, 2010) was one of the members of the legendary and hall of fame family music group, The Isley Brothers died tonight in Chicago and my heart is certainly heavy, and especially for his brother Ronald Isley who is returning to Chicago this week for a celebration concert and tour after his release from prison. Our prayers are with Ronald and the rest of the Isley Brothers family, preparing for a celebration concert on the one hand, and now faced with this untimely death on the other.
During my early years, I was a music major, performing vocalist with local bands, and a DJ, having had the opportunity to work as a teen DJ in the 1970's at the historic black radio station WVON with legends like Pervis Spann, Herb Kent and the late Richard Pegue and others over the years, So music was a part of my life and no one could escape the influence of The Isley Brothers. And of course one of the memorable moments in my life was to see The Isley Brothers in concert. My goodness, the memories of my being able to sing with local bands "Voyage To Atlantis." As a DJ, no one could escape not having just everything from The Isley Brothers with a variety of songs for any occasion, whether it was the funky rhythm sounds that Marvin created with songs like "Fight The Power" and Take Me To The Next Phase," and Marvin even carried that base line in ballads of the group too.
As old school DJ's used to call them on the air and in the clubs, "The Brothers Three Plus Three from NYC with the best music for you and me." The instrumental lineup became official band members to the Isleys in 1973 resulting in platinum success with the band's rock-infused 3+3 album. For the next ten years, Marvin laid down the bass work for some of the band's funkiest jams and sentimental ballads including Fight the Power, I Wanna Be With You, The Pride, Don't Say Goodnight, For the Love of You, Voyage to Atlantis, and Between the Sheets.
The 3+3 lineup splintered into two groups in 1984 with the original Isleys carrying on as the Isley Brothers while Marvin, Ernie and Chris formed Isley-Jasper-Isley. The group released three albums and had a number one hit with the R&B hit, "Caravan of Love".
In 1991, Marvin returned as member of the Isley Brothers with Ronald and Ernie and carried on until 1997 when Marvin developed diabetes. He had both legs removed. He was resting and recuperating and living in Oak Park, Illinois while brothers Ronald and Ernie continued on as the Isley Brothers. Marvin was inducted along with his brothers to the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 1992.
The unique sound Marvin helped create of The Isley Brothers has lasted to develop a fan base that spans a few decades and will last even longer for generations to come. Of course as the news spreads, there is no musical entity anywhere in the world that wont be having musical tributes to The Isley Brothers, one because of the long lasting lead vocals of Ronald Isley, but the core rhythm that of the music that became The Isley Brothers sound was the contribution and direction of Marvin Isley. God bless Marvin Isley, and the legacy that the sound of his music through The Isley Brothers and Isley-Jasper-Isley will live on through millions of fans internationally across the world that their music touched with everlasting memories.
I certainly offer my humblest of thanks to the contribution and impact that the work of Marvin Isley had on me as a musician, DJ, party promoter, and personally. These musical memories served as catalysts for love as well as political empowerment. No political movement can survive without the words and feeling from "Fight The Power." Rest In Peace Marvin Isley, knowing that you and your music will never be forgotten.
Thanks to my longtime friend and media brother Glenn Cosby from V103 for calling me to let me know and to post something.
Mark S. Allen
Associate Editor of The South Street Journal Newspaper, Board member of The Chicago Gospel Music Heritage Museum, Founder of The Black Leadership Development Institute, BLDI, and Board member of The Black Wall Street-Chicago. 449 East 35th Street, 1st Floor, Chicago, Illinois 60616 312-624-8351 or 773-392-0165