New Jersey street to be renamed "Isley Brothers Way"

Photo credit: Jim Houghton, Sony Music Archives

(May 13, 2021) In the long list of honors being paid to the Isley Brothers, you can add another: the City of Teaneck, New Jersey, will be renaming a portion of Van Arsdale Place as “The Isley Brothers Way,” according to NorthJersey.com. Current group members Ron and Ernie Isley are expected to attend the renaming ceremony on June 24. Ernie Isley told the newspaper, "It's a great big wow for this to happen. It's really humbling, and really wonderful."

In the 1960s, brothers Ron and Rudolph had relocated from Cincinnati, Ohio to Teaneck, and, when they started their own label, they named it after their adopted home, calling the imprint “T-Neck.” That would remain their label for the better part of their run of hits in the 70s and 80s.

(May 13, 2021) In the long list of honors being paid to the Isley Brothers, you can add another: the City of Teaneck, New Jersey, will be renaming a portion of Van Arsdale Place as “The Isley Brothers Way,” according to NorthJersey.com. Current group members Ron and Ernie Isley are expected to attend the renaming ceremony on June 24. Ernie Isley told the newspaper, "It's a great big wow for this to happen. It's really humbling, and really wonderful."

In the 1960s, brothers Ron and Rudolph had relocated from Cincinnati, Ohio to Teaneck, and, when they started their own label, they named it after their adopted home, calling the imprint “T-Neck.” That would remain their label for the better part of their run of hits in the 70s and 80s.

The amalgamation of siblings and in-laws known as the Isley Brothers has withstood time, vast changes in musical styles, revolutionary developments in race relations and age to become by any measure one of the most important musical groups of the last half-century. Formed in the mid-50s by brothers Ronald, Rudolph and O'Kelly Isley in their hometown of Cincinnati, Ohio, the brothers struggled for several years as teenagers to score a hit record. They finally achieved national attention and a minor hit in 1959 with the ultimate rock classic "Shout" (which received a second life in the movie "Animal House") on RCA. They wouldn't have another hit for three years, when their cover of "Twist and Shout" became a hit (and later became a much bigger hit for the Beatles.

The brothers then signed with Motown and toiled through the mid-60s with only moderate success, as Motown tried to mold the Isleys into a "Motown Machine" group, generally unsuccessfully. They scored one major hit there, the classic "This Old Heart of Mine" (later reworked by Ronald with Rod Stewart), but mostly found frustration. The group left Motown in 1968, forming their own T-Neck label, and struck immediate gold with "It's Your Thing," a funky double-entendre that shot to the top of the pop and Soul charts. Younger brothers Marvin (bass), and Ernie (lead guitar) and brother-in-law Chris Jasper (keyboards) joined their backup band about this time, adding fresh funk and hard rock elements that completed what became the trademark Isley Brothers sound. In 1972 the group released its best album to date, Brother Brother Brother, a mixture of funky, percussive numbers and smooth, if ponderous, ballads that is still considered by many the seminal Isley Brothers album.

In 1973, the three younger members formally joined the group, and were introduced in 3+3, an out-of-the-box smash that featured the hard rocking rock and soul hit, "That Lady." This began a string of gold and platinum albums that elevated the Isley Brothers to the stratosphere of popular black music, making them perhaps one of the most important R&B acts of the 1970s and the first to successfully merge the funk sounds of Sly and the Family Stone with the electric rock work of former Isley guitarist Jimi Hendrix. 

The Isleys kept the hits coming for a decade. Funked up cuts "Live It Up," "Livin In The Life," "Harvest For the World," and "Take Me To The Next Phase," alternated with sweet, sexy ballads like "Groove With You," "Footsteps In The Dark" and "Voyage to Atlantis." 

While the group would split in the 80s into two acts (The Isley Brothers and Isley/Jasper/Isley) and death would take members, the Isley Brothers legacy would live on in the 21st Century through the reconstituted group consisting of Ron and Ernie Isley, as well as the solo career of Chris Jasper.

In 2021, the Isleys received some well-deserved celebration in the form of the "VERSUZ" with Earth, Wind & Fire. It became one of the most viewed episodes of the web series, and spurred new interest in the group's incredible history. The renaming of the Teaneck street is yet another appropriate bouquet of roses sent the way of this legendary act.

By Chris Rizik

Thanks to SoulTracker Steve S. for letting us know

 
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