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Now Wait A Minute: Isley Brothers Make 'Em Wanna Shout In Teaneck, Englewood

Ernie and Ron Isley with their niece.
Ernie and Ron Isley with their niece. Photo Credit: J. Arslanian

Few celebrities have not one but two streets named after them, but that became reality when the Isley Brothers got one each in Teaneck and Englewood.

“It's beyond words for me to express my level of appreciation and gratitude,” guitarist Ernie Isley told  a crowd gathered Thursday at Van Cortland Terrace and Van Arsdale Place near the Teaneck Armory.

A similar “Isley Brothers Way” ceremony was held at Liberty Road and Greenleaf Avenue in neighboring Englewood.

Velvety vocalist brother Ron Isley called it “a spectacular culmination of a lot of dreams and a lot of prayers.”

Many know the Isleys, who are members of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and the Songwriters Hall of Fame

Those who don’t know them no doubt know their music – including “It’s Your Thing,” “Shout,” “Twist and Shout,” “Fight the Power” and “(Who’s) That Lady.”

Originally from Cincinnati, the original Isley Brothers began on the gospel circuit.

Influenced by groups such as Billy Ward and His Dominoes and The Dixie Hummingbirds, they won a competition on TV’s “Ted Mack’s Amateur Hour.” Soon, they were performing in churches throughout the East.

Tragedy struck when Vernon Isley, then their lead singer, was struck and killed while riding his bike in 1955. He was only 13.

The brothers disbanded before eventually regrouping and crossing over into the mainstream.

They moved east in 1957 after meeting Englewood music legend Sylvia Robinson and within two years had recorded a song that combined doo-wop harmonies with a raucous hand-clapping, foot-stomping beat.

It wasn’t a smash at first, but you’ve no doubt heard it many, many times: An American standard, “Shout” is still going strong at weddings, ballgames and other large events, thanks in large part to the 1978 movie “Animal House.”

Commercial success came calling in 1962 with “Twist and Shout,” which later became a staple for The Beatles.

Ernie Isley was living in Englewood and Ron in Teaneck in the mid-Sixties when they and brother Rudolph, then of Irvington, created the T-Neck record label (get it?).

Little known fact: Jimi Hendrix briefly played guitar for the band, contributing his distinctive style on the T-Neck-recorded “Testify” and “Move On Over and Let Me Dance.”

The Isleys received a lifetime achievement award at the 2014 Grammys. “It’s Your Thing” was awarded the Best R&B Vocal Performance By a Duo Or Group in 1969. The brothers have received several other Grammy nominations, as well.

The oldest brother, O’Kelly Isley Jr., died of a heart attack at his Alpine home in 1986. The youngest, Marvin Isley, died in 2010 following a long battle with diabetes.

Rudolph “Rudy” Isley, who once lived in Haworth, left the group in 1989 to follow a lifelong dream of being a Christian minister. Eight years ago, he bought R Kelly's former home just outside Chicago.

Ron and Ernie have long since moved out of New Jersey. But they’re still kickin’ it.

They’ve performed and recorded with artists ranging from R Kelly and Lil’ Kim to Aretha Franklin, Rod Stewart, Santana and Bon Jovi – and, most recently, waged a Verzuz-Instagram Live battle with Earth, Wind & Fire hosted by Steve Harvey.

They were featured Thursday on “Jimmy Kimmel Live” performing their new party cut, “Friends and Family,” featuring Snoop Dogg.

Plans include a tour, a concert documentary and possibly even a feature-length movie treatment.

There’s also talk of possible contributions to a new album by, among others, Beyonce, Alicia Keys, Drake and Dr. Dre.

But family and friends first: A new generation of Isleys graduated earlier this week from Dwight Morrow High School. Then came the pair of impromptu block parties that sprouted around the dual-town dedications to the respective hometown heroes.

“I love you people,” Ron Isley told those gathered in Teaneck, “and I thank you for loving me, for loving us and for loving the Isley Brothers.”

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