6 of the Isley Brothers’ Most Momentous Hits

Before they broke out into pop and into a career spanning more than 60 years, the Isley Brothers—Kelly, Rudy, and Ron—were gospel singers in their native Ohio. The young brothers began performing together, along with fourth brother Vernon, in 1954 after winning a competition on Ted Mack’s Amateur Hour radio show.

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Eventually, the siblings started playing shows along the East Coast. They later relocated to New York City in 1959, following the death of Vernon, who was killed at the age of 13 while riding his bike.

The siblings’ church-driven call-and-response performances led them straight to their first big hit, “Shout!” Throughout the 1960s, the Isley Brothers delivered a collection of more hits from the Bert Berns and Phil Medley-penned “Twist and Shout” and “This Old Heart of Mine (Is Weak for You),” and the more funked up “It’s Your Thing” by the close of the decade.

[RELATED: Co-Founding Isley Brothers Member Rudolph Isley Dead at Age 84]

Throughout the 1970s, The Isley Brothers had expanded to include guitarist Ernie Isley, bassist Marvin Isley, and keyboardist Chris Jasper, and released more hits with “Love the One You’re With,’ “That Lady,” and their cover of Seals & Crofts’ 1972 hit “Summer Breeze.”

The Isley Brothers broke into the 1980s with their hit album Between the Sheets in 1983 and the Masterpiece in 1985, their final with Kelly, who died of a heart attack in 1986. Moving through different revivals of the group, the Isley Brothers continued on through the ’90s and picked up three Grammy nominations for albums in the 2000s—Contagious (2000), Busted (2002), and Body Kiss (2008).

In honor of the Isley Brothers and their decades-long songbook, here’s a look at just six of their biggest hits from the late ’50s through 1970s.

1. “Shout!” (1959)

By the late 1950s, the siblings had their first major hit with “Shout!” Written by the three brothers, “Shout!” was born out of one of their shows when they were closing on Jackie Wilson’s 1959 hit “Lonely Teardrops” and Ronald Isley picked up on the crowd’s excitement. He extended the song with a call-and-response starting with, Well you know you make me wanna… and the audience responded, Shout. The song sold more than one million copies and was their first charting single at No. 47 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart.

By the ’60s, the song also became a hit for Lulu. Bruce Springsteen even plugged it into the setlist during his Wrecking Ball Tour, 2012-2013.

2. “Twist and Shout” (1962)

Originally recorded by the Top Notes, “Twist and Shout” later became a hit when the Isley Brothers released their version of the song in 1962. “Twist and Shout” was the Isley Brothers’ first single to reach the top 20 on the Billboard Hot 100 at No. 2.

In 1963, The Beatles had one day to record their debut album, Please, Please Me, and had one more track to go: a cover of “Twist & Shout.” John Lennon’s voice was raw from singing all day, so he gargled milk, downed cough drops, and powered through its shouts, making it one of The Beatles’ most famous recordings of all time.

3. “This Old Heart of Mine (Is Weak for You)(1966)

Penned by the songwriting trio of Holland–Dozier–Holland (Lamont Dozier and brothers Brian and Eddie Holland), “This Old Heart of Mine” was originally written for The Supremes before the Isley Brothers took it on.

Released a year after the Isleys signed to Motown, the song was an instant hit for the brothers, peaking at No. 12 on the Billboard Hot 100, and No. 6 on the R&B Singles chart.

In 1989, Rod Stewart released a cover of the song featuring Ronald Isley, which peaked at No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 and No. 1 on the Adult Contemporary chart. 

4. “It’s Your Thing” (1969)

It’s your thing / Do what you wanna do / I can’t tell you / Who to sock it to sang the brothers with another one of their highest charting hits. Written by Rudolph, Ronald, and Kelly, “It’s Your Thing” was the brothers’ response to Motown founder Berry Gordy’s hold on them after they left the label.

The song went to No. 2 on the Billboard Hot 100, topped the R&B chart, and earned the brothers their first Grammy award in 1970 for Best R&B Vocal Performance by a Duo or Group.

5. “That Lady” (1972)

Originally released as”Who’s That Lady” and a B-Side to “My Little Girl” in 1964, they later recorded the song and re-released it in 1972. “That Lady” was their first hit to reach as high as No. 2 on the Hot 100 charts since “It’s Your Thing.”

6. Fight the Power” (1975)

Released on the Isley Brothers’ 13th album The Heat Is On, “Fight the Power” faced some censorship on the radio for its usage of the word bullshit in the lyrics—I got knocked on the ground / By all this bullshit going down. “Fight the Power” went to No. 4 on the Hot 100 and No. 1 on the R&B chart.

The success of the song also helped the Isley album, The Heat Is On, go to No. 1 on the Billboard 200. Nearly 15 years later, Public Enemy interpolated the song on their more anthemic Fear of the Black Planet single of the same name, which hit No. 1 on the rap chart.

Photo: Evening Standard/Getty Images

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