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Vernon Isley: The Lost Brother of Soul

The Isley Brothers are an iconic American R&B and soul group that has been making music for over six decades. With their unique blend of gospel, doo-wop, and soul, they have influenced generations of musicians. However, few people know about the group’s original lead singer, Vernon Isley.

Vernon was the youngest of the Isley brothers, and he had a natural talent for singing. He joined the group when he was just 12 years old, and his powerful voice quickly became their signature sound. Unfortunately, Vernon’s life was tragically cut short in 1955 when he was hit and killed by a car at the age of 13.

Vernon’s Early Life and Musical Talent

Vernon Isley was born in Cincinnati, Ohio, in 1942. He was the youngest of four brothers: Ronald, Rudolph, and O’Kelly. The brothers were raised in a religious household, and they began singing together in church at an early age.

Vernon was a gifted singer from the start. He had a powerful voice that could soar to high notes with ease. He also had a natural sense of rhythm and timing.

Vernon’s Joining of The Isley Brothers

In 1954, when Vernon was just 12 years old, he joined his brothers in their new singing group, The Isley Brothers. The group was initially a quartet, with Vernon singing lead vocals, Rudolph singing backing vocals, O’Kelly singing backing vocals, and Ronald playing guitar.

The Isley Brothers quickly became popular in Cincinnati. They performed at local churches and clubs, and they soon began touring throughout the eastern United States.

Vernon’s Tragic Death

In 1955, when Vernon was just 13 years old, he was hit and killed by a car while riding his bicycle. His death was a devastating blow to the Isley Brothers, and they disbanded for a time.

The Isley Brothers’ Legacy

The Isley Brothers have been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and the Vocal Group Hall of Fame. They have also received numerous awards, including a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award.

Vernon’s Impact on The Isley Brothers

Vernon Isley’s time with The Isley Brothers was brief, but it was significant. He was a gifted singer who helped to shape the group’s sound. His death was a tragedy, but his legacy lives on in the music of The Isley Brothers.


Vernon Isley was a talented singer who was taken from us too soon. He was a key member of The Isley Brothers, and his death was a devastating loss to the group. However, his legacy lives on in the music of The Isley Brothers, who continue to be one of the most popular and influential R&B and soul groups of all time.

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