Walt Reeder : The Isley Brothers

The Isley Brothers – Origins and initial recordings – Walt Reeder Entertainment

The Isley Brothers originally came from Cincinnati, Ohio and were originally raised at the city’s Lincoln Heights suburb, eventually settling at the satellite town of Blue Ash when they were teenagers. The brothers’ father, O’Kelly Isley, Sr., a former United States Navy sailor and vaudeville performer from Durham, North Carolina, and Georgia-reared mother Sallye, guided the elder four Isley boys in their singing while at church. Patterning themselves after groups such as Billy Ward and His Dominoes and The Dixie Hummingbirds, the brothers began performing together in 1954.

Eventually convinced to regroup, the brothers decided to record popular music and left Cincinnati for New York in 1957 with their parents’ blessings.

Moving their entire operations to New Jersey, During that same time period, Jimi Hendrix began playing lead guitar for the brothers’ band. Bringing Hendrix with them in the studio, they recorded the song “Testify”. Later on, Hendrix contributed guitar to another Isleys single, “Move On Over and Let Me Dance”, which was recorded for T-Neck through distribution with Atlantic Records. After neither song charted and Hendrix left them for good in 1965, the brothers signed with Motown Records. Earlier the following year, the group had their second top 40 hit single with “This Old Heart of Mine (Is Weak for You)”. While the brothers’ recordings with Motown were more successful than in the brothers’ early works, they struggled to have a follow-up top 40 hit with the label. They left Motown in 1968.
Major success

Resurrecting their T-Neck label that year, the brothers signed a distribution deal with Buddah Records and issued “It’s Your Thing” in February 1969. The song, recorded by members of Wilson Pickett’s band, became their biggest success to date reaching number 2 on the Hot 100 and number one on the R&B chart. The song’s parent album, It’s Our Thing, reached number 22 on the Pop LPs chart and “It’s Your Thing” became their second million-seller and won them a Grammy Award. The release of “It’s Your Thing” brought record label issues between the Isleys and Motown as Motown argued that the group recorded the song while still under their Motown contract. A 1975 court decision eventually ended in the Isleys’ favor.

Walt Reeder

Walt Reeder : The Isley Brothers

The Isley Brothers are an American musical group originally from Cincinnati, Ohio, originally a vocal trio consisting of brothers O’Kelly Isley, Jr., Rudolph Isley and Ronald Isley.

Alongside a fourth brother, Vernon, the group originally performed gospel music until Vernon’s death a couple years after its original formation. After moving to the New York City area in the late 1950s, the group had modest chart successes during their early years, first coming to prominence in 1959 with their fourth single, “Shout”, written by the three brothers. Initially a modest charted single, the song eventually sold over a million copies. Afterwards the group recorded modestly successful works for a variety of labels, including the top 20 single, “Twist & Shout” and the Motown single, “This Old Heart of Mine (Is Weak for You)” before recording and issuing the Grammy Award-winning hit, “It’s Your Thing” on their own label, T-Neck Records.

Initially influenced by gospel and doo-wop music, the group began experimenting with different musical styles incorporating elements of rock and funk music as well as pop balladry. The inclusion of younger brothers Ernie Isley (lead guitar, drums) and Marvin Isley (bass guitar), and Rudolph’s brother-in-law Chris Jasper (keyboards, synthesizers) in 1973 turned the original vocal trio into a self-contained musical band. For the next full decade, the siblings recorded top-selling albums including The Heat Is On and Between the Sheets. Walt Reeder Entertainment

Initial recordings – The Isley Brothers – Walt Reeder

In 1985, the original Isleys trio of Kelly, Rudy and Ronnie signed with Warner Bros. Records and recorded and released the album, Masterpiece. Shortly a year after its release, Kelly Isley died of a heart attack while battling cancer, in March 1986. The remaining duo of Ron and Rudy released the Angela Winbush-produced albums, Smooth Sailin’ in 1987 and Spend the Night in 1989. Shortly after the latter release, Rudy retired from the music industry and followed life in the ministry. Ron put the group on a brief hiatus in 1990 while he recorded solo material. In 1991, Ron revived the group; Ernie Isley and brother Marvin returned to the fold. that year they released the album, Tracks of Life. Five years later, Ron Isley gained popularity as video villain Frank Biggs (or Mr. Biggs) in the music video for R. Kelly’s hit, “Down Low (Nobody Has to Know)”, which included the Isley Brothers as featured artists. The success of the song and its video helped the brothers’ 1996 album, Mission to Please reach platinum status.

That same year, Marvin Isley’s career ended after a bout with diabetes forced him to have both of his legs amputated. Ron and Ernie have carried on as a duo from then on. In 2001, the duo released their best-selling album in years with the Eternal album, which sold over two million copies and featured the top 20 hit single, “Contagious”. Two years later, the brothers’ Body Kiss album peaked at number-one on the Billboard 200 album chart, becoming their second to reach the position and the first to do so since The Heat Is On. Their next two released albums included 2006’s Baby Makin’ Music and the 2007 holiday album, I’ll Be Home for Christmas. In 2007, the Isleys’ career was interrupted by Ron Isley’s three-year prison sentence for tax evasion. During the group’s hiatus, Ernie toured as part of the Experience Hendrix concert festival while Ron Isley released his first solo album, Mr. I, in 2010. A year later, Ron and Ernie reunited and have since performed on the road.

In 1993 The Isley Brothers song Footsteps in the Dark was sampled by hip hop artist Ice Cube for the hit single It Was A Good Day.

Chris Jasper has released ten solo albums since the breakup of Isley-Jasper-Isley, including Inspired: By Love, By Life, By the Spirit in January 2013. Walt Reeder Entertainment

Walt Reeder

Origins and initial recordings – The Isley Brothers – Walt Reeder Entertainment

By 1971, the Isleys’ younger brothers Ernie Isley and Marvin Isley and brother-in-law Chris Jasper started to add musical input to the band’s music, first performing on the Isleys’ Givin’ It Back, which had the brothers reinterpreting rock songs mixing it with funk and gospel-oriented elements. They played an even bigger role in the music on the 1972 album, Brother, Brother, Brother. Both albums yielded top 40 hits including “Love the One You’re With” and “Pop That Thang”. By the end of their Buddah tenure in 1973, the brothers signed a distribution deal with Epic Records and made Ernie, Marvin and Chris official members. In 1973, the Isleys released 3 + 3, which included the top 10 hit single, “That Lady” and a UK Top 10 cover of “Summer Breeze”. Incorporating hard rock and folk rock as well as funk and soulful balladry, the album became their breakthrough hit, eventually selling over two million copies.

The following year’s Live It Up reached gold. In 1975, the brothers scored one of their most successful recordings to date with The Heat Is On, which featured the hits “Fight the Power” and “For the Love of You”, and became their first to reach number one on the Pop LPs chart, also selling over two million copies, going double-platinum. The brothers would have more hit albums including Harvest for the World, Go for Your Guns and Showdown, which either went gold or platinum and released several top 40 pop and R&B recordings and several popular album and radio cuts. By the release of 1979’s Winner Takes All, the brothers had incorporated disco and quiet storm music into their work. The brothers’ final album under their six-member lineup, 1983’s Between the Sheets, sold over two million copies. By then, financial struggles, creative difficulties and other issues affected the group. Shortly after the success of Between the Sheets, Ernie, Marvin and Chris left the Isley Brothers and formed Isley-Jasper-Isley, later scoring the hit, “Caravan of Love”.
Later career Walt Reeder

Walt Reeder Entertainment : The Isley Brothers
The six-member lineup of the band splintered in 1983, with Ernie, Marvin and Chris Jasper forming the short-lived spinoff group Isley-Jasper-Isley. Eldest member O’Kelly died in 1986 and Rudolph and Ronald released a pair of albums as a duo before Rudolph retired for life in the Christian ministry in 1989. Ronald reformed the group two years later with Ernie and Marvin in 1991; five years later in 1996, Marvin Isley left the group due to complications with diabetes. The remaining duo of Ronald and Ernie would accomplish mainstream success with the albums Eternal (2001) and Body Kiss (2003), with the former album spanning the top twenty hit, “Contagious”. As of 2013, the Isley Brothers continue to perform under the lineup of Ronald and Ernie.

Throughout their career, the Isley Brothers have had four Top 10 singles on the United States Billboard chart. Sixteen of their albums charted in the Top 40. Thirteen of those albums have been either certified gold, platinum or multi-platinum by the RIAA. The brothers have been honored by several musical institutions including being inducted to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1992. Five years later, they were inducted to Hollywood’s Rockwalk and in 2003, were inducted to the Vocal Group Hall of Fame. Walt Reeder

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The Gap Band – American R&B and funk band

The Gap Band was an American R&B and funk band, who rose to fame during the 1970s and 1980s. Comprising brothers Charlie, Ronnie and Robert Wilson, the band first formed as the Greenwood, Archer and Pine Street Band in 1967 in their hometown of Tulsa, Oklahoma.
The group shortened its name to The Gap Band in 1973.

After 43 years together, they retired in 2010.(Walt Reeder)

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Walt Reeder: The Gap Band – Sampling

Since the 1990s, many The Gap Band hits have been sampled and covered by R&B and Hip-Hop artists such as Ashanti, Soul For Real, Nas, 69 Boyz, Snoop Dogg, Ice Cube, Jermaine Dupri, Da Brat, II D Extreme, Blackstreet, Shaquille O’Neal, Vesta, Mia X, Big Mello and Mary J. Blige. “Outstanding” was sampled for a 1990s commercial for malt liquor, it was also sampled by hit producer Heavy D for his boy band prodigies Soul For Real’s hit single “Every Little Thing” which reached #17 on the Hot 100 Charts at the time of release. Musicians inspired by The Gap Band include R. Kelly, Keith Sweat, Ruff Endz, Guy, Blackstreet, II D Extreme, Mint Condition, Jagged Edge, D’Extra Wiley, and Aaron Hall.

“You Dropped a Bomb on Me” was featured in the hit 2004 videogame Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, playing on the fictional funk radio station Bounce FM.
“Burn Rubber On Me (Why You Wanna Hurt Me)” was featured in DiRT 3 Walt Reeder Entertainment

The Gap Band – Later years

While their 1986 cover of “Going in Circles” went to #2 on the R&B charts, and the album it was released on, Gap Band VII hit #6 R&B, the album almost became their first in years to miss the Billboard 200, peaking at a mere #159.

Although they were beginning to struggle stateside, the group found their greatest success in the UK when their 1987 single “Big Fun” from Gap Band 8 reached #4 in the UK Singles Chart. 1988’s Straight from the Heart was their last studio album with Total Experience.

The Gap Band caught a small break in 1988 with the Keenan Ivory Wayans film I’m Gonna Git You Sucka. They contributed the non-charting “You’re So Cute” and the #14 R&B title track to the film (The first was not on the soundtrack, but was used in the film). Their first song on their new label, Capitol Records, 1989’s “All of My Love” (from their album Round Trip), is, to date, their last #1 R&B hit. The album also produced the #8 R&B “Addicted to Your Love” and the #18 R&B “”We Can Make It Alright.” They left Capitol records the next year and went on a five year hiatus from producing new material.

During the 1990s, the band released three non-charting studio albums and two live albums. The only album to chart was the live album Live & Well, which peaked at #54 R&B in 1996. Walt Reeder

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The Gap Band – Success – Walt Reeder Entertainment:

When Lonnie signed them, the group had twelve musicians. The group dropped most of their personnel. Raymond Calhoun (writer of “Outstanding”), Oliver Scott (co-writer of “Yearning For Your Love), and arranger/producer Malvin Dino Vice (co-writer of “Boys Are Back in Town”) were retained as members of the backing band and major contributors to the Gap Band’s later recordings. On their first Simmons-produced album, The Gap Band, they found chart success with songs such as “I’m in Love” and “Shake”, the latter becoming a Top 10 R&B hit in 1979.

Later that year, the group released “I Don’t Believe You Want to Get Up and Dance (Oops!)” on their album The Gap Band II. Although it did not hit the Hot 100, it soared to #4 R&B. The song, and the band’s musical output as a whole, became more P-Funk-esque,

In 1980 Charlie and Ronnie provided background vocals on Stevie Wonder’s 1980 hit “I Ain’t Gonna Stand For It” from Wonder’s album Hotter Than July (1980).

The band reached a whole new level of fame in 1980 with the release of the #1 R&B and #16 Billboard 200 The Gap Band III. The band adopted a formula of quiet-storm ballads (such as the #5 R&B song “Yearning for Your Love” and “Are You Living”) supported by anthemic funk songs (such as the R&B chart-topper “Burn Rubber on Me (Why You Wanna Hurt Me)” and “Humpin'”). They repeated this formula on the #1 R&B album Gap Band IV in 1982, which resulted in three hit singles: “Early in the Morning” (#1 R&B, #13 Dance, #24 Hot 100), “You Dropped a Bomb on Me” (#2 R&B, #31 Hot 100, #39 Dance), and “Outstanding” (#1 R&B, #24 Dance). It was during this time that former Brides of Funkenstein singer Dawn Silva joined them on tour.

Their 1983 effort, Gap Band V: Jammin’, went gold, but not quite as successful as the previous works, peaking at #2 R&B and #28 on the Billboard 200. The single “Party Train” peaked at #3 R&B and the song “Jam the Motha'” peaked at #16 R&B, but neither made it onto the Hot 100. The album’s closer “Someday” (a loose cover of Donny Hathaway’s “Someday We’ll All Be Free”) featured Stevie Wonder as a guest vocalist.

Their next work, Gap Band VI brought them back to #1 R&B in 1985, but the album sold fewer copies, and did not go gold. “Beep a Freak” hit #2 R&B and “I Found My Baby” peaked at #8 on the R&B charts, and “Disrespect” peaked at #18. That year, lead singer Charlie Wilson provided backing vocals on Zapp & Roger’s #2 R&B “Computer Love”. Walt Reeder

The Gap Band – Legacy – Walt Reeder Entertainment:

In 1992, Charlie ventured into a solo career and has had several moderate R&B hits on his own. Wilson’s vocals were credited in part for inspiring the vocal style of New Jack Swing artists Guy, Aaron Hall, Keith Sweat, and R. Kelly. The band reunited in 1996, and issued The Gap Band: Live and Well, a live greatest hits album.

On August 26, 2005, The Gap Band was honored as a BMI Icon at the 57th annual BMI Urban Awards. The honor is given to a creator who has been “a unique and indelible influence on generations of music makers.”Outstanding” alone remains one of the most sampled songs in history and has, astonishingly, been used by over 150 artists.

Robert Wilson died of a heart attack at his home in Palmdale, California on August 15, 2010. Walt Reeder