The Isley Brothers’ mother made Jimi Hendrix feel at home in New Jersey


Happy Mother’s Day from the Isley Brothers.

The legendary Jersey band will play the big Mother’s Day Good Music Fest on Friday, May 6 at the Prudential Center in Newark. Keith Sweat, Monica and SWV are also on the bill.

The band’s guitarist Ernie Isley will always remember his mother, Sallye Isley, fondly.

“Our mother is very loved and we miss her very much, and it was one of the days we looked forward to being able to recognize her,” Isley said.

Sallye died in 1988 in Englewood at the age of 72. She taught her sons to sing and moved the family, with dad, from Cincinnati to Englewood in 1959.

“The vocal instrument is the foundation of The Isley Brothers,” Ernie said. “It’s really important to have a good solid base every time you start. But not just in terms of music, … in terms of family, and that’s definitely part of the glue that has kept us around longer than anyone in rock ‘n’ roll.

The Isleys had their first hit, before Ernie was in the band, in 1959 with “Shout”.

“Twist and Shout” followed in 1962, and the Rock and Roll Hall of Famers continued to rack up records, including “This Old Heart of Mine (Is Weak for You)”, “Summer Breeze”, “Live It Up “, “Fight the Power”, “Harvest for the World”, “Between the Sheets”, “Contagious” and “That Lady”.

Released in 1973, “That Lady” featured the searing virtuosity of Ernie Isley’s lead guitar. He drew comparisons to the late Jimi Hendrix, who ironically was a member of the Isley Brothers and lived with the family in their Englewood home from 1963 to 1965.

The Isleys bought Hendrix his first Fender Stratocaster guitar.

“(Hendrix) had no place to stay,” Isley said. “He was the only band member allowed to live in our house, and he played guitar in his room, and he played guitar when (dinner) was being prepared. There was something in his mind that was harmless and sweet. We have a free room. “You can stay in our mother’s house for a while. »

Sallye greeted him.

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“Every time we had dinner or any meal, he was a part of it,” Isley said. “When it was dinner time, Jimi would go to the back of the house and hide because the rest of the band was standing there, ‘What’s for dinner?’ …Marvin would then go to the back of the room, ‘Jimi, it’s dinner time,’ and all the guys in the band hang around like they were going to have to fend for themselves.(Hendrix) would probably be sitting at my right, and he didn’t look up. He was looking straight ahead, and then we were saying a blessing and starting to eat.

Sallye made sure all the bellies at the table were full.

“She would always say to Jimi, ‘Do you want some more?’, and he would go ‘Uh-huh’ and look up,” Ernie said. “He ate very well. He was part of the family. »

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Hendrix left the band in 1965 to pursue his own musical immorality. He succeeded, but died in 1970 at the age of 27.

The Isley Brothers, who now feature Ernie and Ronald Isley, have been very much in the spotlight in recent years. They played in a Verzuz battle with Earth, Wind and Fire last April, and the streets of Englewood and Teaneck, where Ronald and Rudolph Isley founded the band’s label, T-Neck Records, have been renamed Isley Brothers. Way last year.

Every June 24 in Englewood and Teaneck is now recognized as Isley Brothers Day.

Sallye Isley did well.

“Mom obviously was and always will be a central figure in our lives and careers,” Ernie said.

Happy Mother’s Day with the Isley Brothers, Keith Sweat, Monica and SWV, 8 p.m. Friday, May 6, Prudential Center, 25 Lafayette St., Newark. Tickets are $89.50 and up.

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Jersey Shore native Chris Jordan covers entertainment and reporting for USA Today Network New Jersey. Contact him at @chrisfhjordan; [email protected]


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