June 6, 2010 – Marvin Isley was born August 18, 1953 in Cincinnati, Ohio. His family moved to a home in Englewood, New Jersey in the summer of 1959. Isley eventually graduated from Englewood’s Dwight Morrow High School in 1972. In 1976, he graduated from C.W. Post College with a degree in music.
Marvin became the youngest member of the soulful Isley Brothers R&B group. The original group formed in 1954 with the three eldest brothers Isley, O’Kelly Jr., Rudolph and Ronald, which recorded several singles, including “Shout,” “This Old Heart of Mine” and the Grammy winning “It’s Your Thing”.
Marvin began playing bass guitar while in high school and by the end of the decade was being tutored and mentored by his elder brothers alongside elder brother Ernie and their friend, Chris Jasper, who was an in-law. By 1973, Marvin’s group had joined the older half of the Isleys as its instrumentalists, when the Isley Brothers group officially expanded to six performers. The fuller group enjoyed massive radio airplay with hits including “That Lady,” “The Heat is On,” “Go For Your Guns”.
In the late-1960s, Marvin formed a trio with older brother Ernie and brother-in-law Chris Jasper.
By 1971, Marvin began performing bass guitar on The Isley Brothers’ album, Givin’ It Back. Within two years, he became an official member of the group. In addition to playing bass, he also provided percussion and also wrote or co-wrote some of the group’s hits including “Fight the Power”, “The Pride” and “Between the Sheets”. Breaking away from the Isleys in 1984, he, Ernie and Chris formed the trio, Isley-Jasper-Isley, who had a hit in 1985 with “Caravan of Love”.
The group broke up in 1988 after Ernie Isley signed a solo recording deal. Three years later, Marvin and Ernie reunited with Ron Isley to reform the Isley Brothers. Marvin remained a member until complications from his longtime battle with diabetes forced him into retirement in 1997. Having been diagnosed with diabetes in his early 20s, Isley’s condition worsened to the point where he had to have both legs amputated. Isley was inducted as a member of the Isley Brothers to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1992.
He died from complications with diabetes on June 6, 2010 at age 56.