The Isley Brothers started their career in the early 1950s by performing gospel songs in local churches in Cincinnati, Ohio. At the time the group consisted of Ronald Isley (b. 21 May 1941), Rudolph Isley (b. 1 April 1941), O'Kelly Isley (b. 25 December 1937 d. 31 march 1986) and Vernon Isley (b. ? d. 1955 or 54).
In 1957 or 1956 Ronald, Rudolph & O'Kelly re-located to New York City and started their career as recording artists.
Hendrix joined the Isley Brothers sometime in early 1964, resulting in "Testify" by the Isley Brothers being recorded in an unknown studio in New York City. This track is usually listed as either being recorded in March 1964 or 21 May 1964 at Atlantic Studios. Neither of these dates (or the location) is correct. The master tape is listed in the tape logs as being "purchased" by Atlantic, so they bought the master tape when it had been already recorded. The master tape numbers allocated for Testify (7920 & 7921) suggest 20 or 21 May as the date when it was added to the library when compared to numbers assigned to masters recorded on those dates, "March ?" is listed as a speculative recording date in the logs, so the actual recording date is unknown. 2
"Testify" was the first release on the Isley Brother's T-Neck label (and the only one until the label was resurrected in 1969) which was distributed by Atlantic Record Sales, so very likely the master tape was brought to Atlantic for mastering and/or pressing of the single after a distribution deal had been closed.
Around the time of the recording of "Testify" Jimi played live with the Isley Brothers, for how long exactly is unclear as no firm dates are known, and only two photos from this period exist, taken before and during a gig at an unknown location. Sometime during spring / summer 1964 Hendrix left the Isley Brothers when in Nashville.
There he joined a package tour featuring Sam Cooke in September, and did not take part in The Isley Brothers recording of the 45 "The Last Girl / Looking For A Love". These tracks have long been thought to feature Hendrix, and it's also been thought that he toured with the Isley Brothers in September / October 1964, but this is not correct. A short explanation why:
- The two postcards Hendrix send to his father, stamped 28 September 1964 & 8 October 1964 do not mention the Isley Brothers.
- The Isley Brothers toured the UK during 17 October - 23 November 1964, and it's well know that Jimi never visited the UK before he moved there in 1966, so he had left the band by that time.
- In the postcard stamped 28 September Hendrix says that he's about halfway through a 35-day tour, which means that he would have started on the tour around 10th of September. The Isley Brothers were recording "The Last Girl / Looking For A Love" in New York on the 23rd of September, not touring.
- Sam Cooke was touring with Jackie Wilson and The Valentinos in September / October 1964.
- Hendrix has said in interviews that he toured with Sam Cooke & Jackie Wilson, this has been confirmed at least by Bobby Womack (then a member of the Valentinos), "Gorgeous" George Odell & B.B.King who were on the same tour.
- Jimi mentions in the postcard send in October that his home address is Atlanta, the Isley Brothers were based in New York. Atlanta is close to Nashville where Hendrix said in interviews that he quit the Isley Brothers, and joined a Sam Cooke tour.
- Jimi has said in interviews that after he left the Sam Cooke tour he traveled BACK to Atlanta, and joined Little Richard there. In a postcard stamped 25 January 1965 Hendrix says "I received your letter while I was in Atlanta. I'm playing with Little Richard now".
See the "Timeline" for more details.
Jimi became a member of the Isley Brothers again sometime in the spring / summer of 1965, played gigs around New York, recorded the 45 "Move Over And Let Me Dance / Have You Ever Been Disappointed" on the 5th of August, photographs from this session and from 4 different concerts during 1965 have been published in Univibes. Jimi remained a member of the band until leaving sometime late in 1965, likely around October.
The Isley Brothers discography 1957-70
Angels Cried / The Cow Jumped Over The Moon (Teenage 1004) USA Jan 1957
Rockin' McDonald / Don't Be Jealous
Shout - Part 1 / Shout - Part 2 (RCA 7588) USA 1959
Respectable / Without A Song (RCA 7657) USA 1959
How Deep Is The Ocean / He's Got The Whole World In His Hands (RCA 7718) USA 1959
Open Up Your Heart / Gypsy Love Song (RCA 7746) USA 1960
Tell Me Who / Say You Love Me Too (RCA 7787) USA 1960
Twist And Shout / The Spanish Twist [by The I.B.SPECIAL] (Wand 124) USA Jun 1962
Twistin' With Linda / You Better Come Home (Wand 127) USA 1962
Nobody But Me / I'm Laughing To Keep From Crying (Wand 131) USA 1963
Surf and Shout / Whatcha Gonna Do (United Artists 638) USA 1963
Love Is A Wonderful Thing / Open Up Her Eyes (United Artists 798) USA 1964 (Unreleased)
Testify (part I) / Testify (part II) (T-Neck 45-501) USA Jun 1964
The Last Girl / Looking For A Love (Atlantic 45-2263) USA Nov 1964
Simon Says / Wild As A Tiger (Atlantic 45-2277) USA Feb 19651
Move Over And Let Me Dance / Have You Ever Been Disappointed (Atlantic 45-2303) USA Sep 1965
This Old Heart of Mine (Is Weak For You) / There's No Love Left (Tamla T54128) USA Feb 1966
Take Some Time Out For Love / Who Could Ever Doubt My Love (Tamla T54133) USA 1966
I Guess I'll Always Love You / I Hear A Symphony (Tamla 54135) USA 1966
Take Me In Your Arms (Rock Me A Little While) / Why When Love Is Gone (Tamla T54164) USA 196?
All Because I Love You / Behind A Painted Smile (Tamla 54175) USA 1968
Just Ain't Enough Love / Take Some Time Out For Love (Tamla 54182) USA 1969
It's Your Thing / Don't Give It Away (T-Neck 901) USA 1969
I Turned You On / I Know Who You Been Socking It To (T-Neck 902) USA 1969
Black Berries - Pt. 1 / Black Berries - Pt. 2 (T-Neck 906) USA 1969
Bless Your Heart / Give Women What They Want (T-Neck 912) USA 1969
Keep On Doin'/ Save Me (T-Neck 914) USA 1970
If He Can, You Can / Holdin' On (T-Neck 919) USA 1970
Shout! (RCA Victor 1959)
Twist And Shout (Wand 1962)
The Fabulous Isley Brothers-Twisting And Shouting (Wand 1964)
Take Some Time Out-The Famous Isley Brothers (United Artists 1964)
This Old Heart Of Mine (Tamla 1966)
Soul On The Rocks (Tamla 1967)
It's Our Thing (T-Neck 1969)
Doin' Their Thing (Tamla 1969)
The Brothers Isley (T-Neck 3002) 1969
Live At Yankee Stadium (T-Neck 1969)
Get Into Something (T-Neck 1970)
Re-releases of tracks featuring Hendrix:
Lp In The Beginning: With Jimi Hendrix (T-Neck TNS-3007) USA 1971
Cd The Isley Brothers Story Vol. 1: Rockin' Soul (1959-68) (Rhino R2 70908) USA 1991
Cd It's Your Thing: The Story of The Isley Brothers (Epic Associated/T-Neck/Legacy) 1999
1 the "Simon Says" 45 is is reviewed as a new release in Billboard issue 6 March 1965.
2 the tape log listings have been published in the book "Atlantic Records Discography Vols. 1 & 2" (compiled by Michel Ruppli)