I know I’ve said this before, but MAN, famous people are passing away at an alarming rate.
Marvin Isley, bass player for Rock ‘n Roll Hall of Fame inductees The Isley Brothers, passed away yesterday at the age of 56. The musician had been ill with diabetes for quite some time, and the disease ultimately cost him both of his legs.
Along with his guitar-slinging brother Ernie (a disciple of Jimi Hendrix who should be acknowledged as one of the most bad-ass axemen of all time) and his cousin Chris Jasper, Marvin was instrumental in the Isley Brothers’ transformation from early rock ‘n roll crooners to a funk/rock powerhouse in the early Seventies. Starting with the album “3 + 3” and the hit “That Lady”, The Isleys were up there with Earth, Wind & Fire, The Commodores and Parliament/Funkadelic as one of the most successful R&B bands of the era. The three younger members left the band in 1983 and formed their own splinter project, Isley/Jasper/Isley. As such, they scored a #1 R&B hit in 1985 with “Caravan of Love”. After I/J/I split, Marvin briefly returned to the family band before retiring.
Without knowing the exact reasons for the initial split, it looks like the older Isleys wanted to go in a smooth ballad direction, while the younger guys were going for more of a rock-etched, Prince-ish sound. Want proof? Check out the first I/J/I album “Broadway’s Closer to Sunset Blvd.”, which, somewhat unbelievably remains in print. The album spawned a couple of minor hits, including the chugging rocker “Look the Other Way” and the more danceable “Kiss & Tell”, which featured a lead vocal by Marvin. There’s a lot of Michael McDonald-ishness going on in this song!
Check out the video, and farewell, Marvin. You will be missed.