Who is Ernie Isley?

Ernie is an American musician, best known to the world as a member of various combinations of the musical Isley Brothers, through which he enjoyed international success in the ’70s and beyond, especially with the albums “The Heat Is On” (1975), “Go for Your Guns” (1977)”, and “Showdown” (1978).

Ernie Isley Wiki: Age, Childhood, Siblings, and Education

Ernest Isley was born on 7 March 1952, in Cincinnati, Ohio, USA. He’s the second youngest in a family of six siblings, and his brothers are O’Kelly Isley Jr., who sadly died in 1986 of a heart attack at the age of 48, Rudolph Bernard, Ronald, Vernon and Marvin Isley.

By the time he was a teenager, the Isley Brothers were already a star act. Ernie became close with famous musician Jimi Hendrix in 1963, who lived in the Isley family home, which proved to be a turning point in the young boy’s life as he fell in love with the sound of the electric guitar. He began playing the drums when he was 12 years old, and his first live performance with the band was in 1966.

He got his first guitar in 1968, and the same year officially became a member of the Isley Brothers group.

He matriculated from Dwight Morrow High School in 1970, after which he didn’t pursue further education and instead focused on his already promising music career.

Career Beginnings

The Isley Brothers group was formed in 1959 as a soul, funk, and R&B group, but the brothers experimented with rock and other genres too. Before Ernie’s first engagement with the group, his older brothers had already released seven studio albums, including “Shout!”, “Twist & Shout”, “Soul on the Rocks” (1967), and “It’s Our Thing”, among others.

Ernie played bass on the Isley Brothers’ song “It’s Your Thing”, which became a huge hit in 1969.

Ernie Isley Zeal #3 2010Contact Tracy Isley for permissions.

Posted by Ernie Isley on Sunday, June 19, 2011

He changed the group’s direction, as he influenced the switch from a veteran R&B group to a more rock’ n’ roll sound. By 1973 they were a full band, as they added Chris Jasper and their youngest brother, Marvin to the group.

Ernie started contributing to the band’s music more frequently at the start of the ’70s – his first major work was the 1971 album “Givin’ It Back” , in which the brothers covered a variety of songs including “Spill the Wine”, originally performed by Eric Burdon, then Stephen Stills’ “Love the One You’re With”, and Bob Dylan’s “Lay Lady Lay”, giving them a new rock sound. Ernie played guitar on the group’s next album, “Brother, Brother, Brother”, which was their last studio production with Buddah Records, before signing with Epic Records.

It was their second venture into rock music, and it spawned such hits as “Pop That Thang”, “Lay-Away”, “It’s Too Late”, and “Work to Do”, among others.

Rise to Prominence

Their next studio album, “3+3” became a complete hit, as it achieved platinum status in the US and silver in Britain, while it peaked at No. 8 on the US Billboard 200 chart. The group enjoyed massive success throughout the ’70s, with albums that achieved multiple platinum certifications such as “The Heat Is On” (1975) – their first No. 1 album on the US Billboard 200 chart – then “Harvest for the World” (1976), “Showdown” (1978), and “Winner Takes All”.

Ernie and the boys continued rather successfully into the ’80s, with releases such as “Go All the Way: (1980), “Grand Slam” (1981), and “Between the Sheets” (1983).

Isley Jasper Isley Group

Ernie left the group in 1984, citing creative differences. He took Marvin Isley and Chris Jasper with him to form the Isley-Jasper-Isley group, and they subsequently released three studio albums, “Broadway’s Closer to Sunset Blvd” (1984), then “Caravan of Love” (1985), and “Different Drummer” (1987), before they disbanded, and Ernie returned to the Isley Brothers group in 1991.

Later Career

The group faced tough times following Ernie’s exit in 1984. After O’Kelly Jr. died, they failed to make a commercially successful album, and even took an hiatus in the late ’80s.

However, Ronald, Earnie and Marvin regrouped in 1991, and the following year released the album “Tracks of Life”, which peaked at No. 140 on the Billboard 200 chart. Four years later, the brothers released “Mission to Please”, which became a huge success and marked the return of the group’s former glory. The album spawned such hits as “Let’s Lay Together”, “Floatin’ On Your Love”, and “Holding Back the Years” among others that helped the album reach platinum status.

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Unfortunately, another tragedy struck the group, as Marvin ended his career due to complications from diabetes, which resulted in having both of his legs amputated. However, Ernie and Ronald continued as a duo, and their next album, “Eternal”, came five years later, peaking at No. 3 on the Billboard 200 chart, concurrently topping the US R&B chart.

Encouraged by the success, Ernie and Ronald released the album “Body Kiss”, just two years after “Eternal”, which topped the Billboard 200 chart, and achieved gold status. The success of “Body Kiss” was followed by two albums, “Baby Makin’ Music” (2006) and “I’ll Be Home for Christmas” (2007).

Another problem arose in Ernie’s music-making career, when his brother Ron received a three-year prison sentence for tax evasion. They eventually continued the Isley Brothers group in 2010, and have since released one studio album, “Power of Peace” with Santana.

How Rich is Ernie Isley? Net Worth

As of mid- 2022, Ernie Isley’s net worth has been estimated to be around $2 million, earned through his successful career as a musician. In addition to his work with the group, Ernie has released one solo album, “High Wire” (1990).

Awards and Honors

His prolific career has earned him a number of prestigious awards and honors. The Isley Brothers are one of the longest, most influential, and most diverse groups in popular music, and as such, has won two Grammy Awards, including the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award. Moreover, they were inducted into the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame in 1992, while in 1997, they were inducted into the Hollywood Rockwalk.

Ernie was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame as a group member. Some of his songwriting credits include “Footsteps In the Dark”, “Brown Eyed Girl”, “Take Me To The Next Phase”, and “Harvest for the World”, among others.

Ernie is a guest lecturer at the Berklee School of Music in Boston, and an active musical mentor in schools and community music programs. He received an honorary doctorate of music from the College in 2016.

Personal Life, Marriage, Wife, Children

Ernie lives with his wife Tracy, in St. Louis, Missouri. The two have a daughter together, Alexandra Isley, who is now a prominent R&B artist in her own right, and has released three studio albums – “Dreams in Analog” (2013), “L U X U R Y” (2015), and “Marigold” (2022).

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