Rudolph Isley, a member of the legendary Isley Brothers group, has passed away at the age of 84 in Illinois on October 11th. The news was initially reported by TMZ, and Rolling Stone obtained a statement from his brother and bandmate, Ronald Isley, confirming the sad news. Ronald expressed his deep emotions, saying, “There are no words to express my feelings and the love I have for my brother. Our family will miss him. But I know he’s in a better place.”
The family has not disclosed the circumstances surrounding Rudolph Isley’s passing, and there are currently no further updates regarding his death.
For those unfamiliar with Rudolph’s legacy, he was one-third of the Isley Brothers, alongside his siblings Ronald and O’Kelly. The group originally started as a quartet in 1954, but tragedy struck in 1955 when their brother and additional member, Vernon, tragically lost his life in a bicycle accident at the age of 13. While the band temporarily disbanded due to this loss, they later reemerged as a trio, with Ronald taking the lead vocals, while Rudolph and O’Kelly contributed their harmonious background vocals. The Isley Brothers’ debut track, “Shout,” remains a timeless classic.
In 1958, Rudolph Isley married Elaine Jasper and focused more on married life than his musical career. However, when he divorced his wife in 1971, the Isley Brothers had expanded to include more family talent. His younger brothers, Ernie and Marvin, joined the group, along with Rudolph’s brother-in-law, Chris Jasper.
Rudolph Isley took another hiatus from music in 1989 to pursue a career as a Christian minister, but he still occasionally lent his vocals to the group. While Ronald often took the lead, Rudolph was a prominent presence on the front lines. He also showcased his songwriting skills, contributing hits like “That Lady,” “Nobody But Me,” and “Testify” to the group’s repertoire.
In the last few months, Rudolph and his brother Ronald had been embroiled in a legal dispute over the rights to the band’s name. Rudolph had filed a lawsuit earlier this year, alleging that Ronnie had trademarked their name and retained all the profits. He argued that both of them held 50% ownership rights to the group’s name after O’Kelly’s passing in 1986. Rudolph’s lawsuit sought an accounting of Ronnie’s finances from the approval of the trademark in August 2022 and requested 50% of relevant earnings. Additionally, he sought to be recognized as a partial trademark owner.
In August, Judge Thomas M. Durkin decided not to dismiss the lawsuit, instead advancing it to a court trial. With Rudolph’s passing, the status of the lawsuit’s requests concerning Ronald’s finances and trademark ownership remains uncertain.