Marvin Isley, the youngest of the Isley Brothers died Monday June 7 in Chicago at the age of 56.
The cause of death has not yet been announced, though Isley suffered from diabetes severe enough to have caused him to leave the group in 1997. Later, his condition led to the amputation of both legs.
He will be remembered for the resilience and power of his bass work, which, for one thing, formed a crucial hook in the undulating ’70s hit “Fight The Power.” The bassist also played on the smash “Who’s That Lady?,” as well as on prominent songs like “For The Love Of You” and “Harvest For The World.”
Marvin grew up in Englewood, N.J. and was too young to be a member of the original band of older brothers O’Kelly Jr., Rudolph and Ronald, who scored hits with the songs “Twist and Shout,” “It’s Your Thing” and “Shout.” Marvin joined the group in 1973 along with brother Ernie, guitar and brother-in-law Chris Jasper, keyboards.
The new six-member lineup debuted with 1973’s “3+3,” which contained such soul classics as “That Lady, Pt. 1 & 2” and “What It Comes Down To.”
The group continued to have chart success throughout the decade with hit songs like “Fight the Power” and “Between the Sheets,” many of which were co-written by Marvin and the other two younger members. Marvin, Ernie and Jasper split off in 1984 to form Isley-Jasper-Isley, which met with modest success. They eventually returned to the fold to play with the Isley Brothers between 1991 and 1997, at which point O’Kelly had died of a cancer-related heart attack and Rudolph had left to work in the ministry.
The group’s two best known members—singer Ron Isley and guitarist Ernie Isley—continue to perform under the group’s name. Ron later went to prison for tax evasion, but is expected to be released sometime this year.