The Isley Brothers have been providing soundtracks for our summers for more than 60 years. Maurice DuBois has their story:
It's a safe guess that, whatever your age, the Isley Brothers are the soundtrack of your life.
Remember when you first heard this one, "Who's That Lady"?
Remember when you first heard "Shout"?
Ron Isley remembers everything: "Audiences would go CRAZY! They would go crazy, and we would go crazy with 'em!"
And where were you when you first heard the sublimely sexy "Between the Sheets"?
DuBois asked, "How many babies are walking around because of that song?"
"Generations!" laughed Ron Isley.
Generations have kept the Isley Brothers on top of the charts for six decades and counting.
"It's something that we worked on for all those years, you know, to want to be number one, to want to be on top!" said Ron. "So that's been very important to us."
"That voice, it's still perfect. It's beautiful," said DuBois.
"It's from God, man," Ron said. "A lot of time I can tell when I want to hit a note and say 'Whah? Wow, that was easier five years ago!'"
Seventy-six-year-old Ron Isley started performing at the age of two. Churches came first. But their mom warned them that to survive in the business, they needed to do it all -- sing everything from gospel to R&B to country-western to pop.
Isleys have come and gone … Ron and brother Ernie are now the two remaining group members.
At home with Ron in St. Louis, the stories ricochet around the room. Take the time they asked an "unknown" guitar player named Jimi Hendrix to join the band.
Ernie, who was 11 years old at the time, recalled: "Never heard anybody play guitar like that."
Hendrix played, and lived, with them for two years.
How about the story of "Twist and Shout," which they released in 1962?
One year later, it became a huge hit for the Beatles.
Ernie Isley says he ran into Paul McCartney a few years ago: "I said something like, 'Paul, you and Ringo and George, you guys, are just wonderful.' And he said, 'Ernie, if it were not for the Isley Brothers, the Beatles would still be in Liverpool!'"
And one more story: In 2006, Ron Isley was sentenced to three years in federal prison for tax evasion -- not long after he'd married one of his back-up singers, Kandy Johnson. Still, there's a happy ending.
How hard was being in prison? "They were my biggest fans," Ron laughed. "Listenin' to their stories and doin' entertainment for them."
Kandy recalled visiting Ron with her son every Friday, Saturday and Sunday. "It was a time for us to grow, to stretch, to learn. And it made our love for each other much deeper," she said.
And something to share.
Which brings us to Carlos Santana, the legendary guitar player who brought a fusion of Latin, African and pop music to audiences, and his wife, drummer Cindy Blackman Santana, who grew up listening to Ron Isley.
"When Cindy and I got married, that's the first song that we danced to, 'The Look of Love,'" Carlos said.
In 2012 their paths crossed, and Santana took full advantage of the chance encounter: "So I immediately said, 'Hi, how ya' doin? Can we do an album together?'"
The result, "Power of Peace," is just out. It's a family affair: Carlos Santana, the Isleys, plus their wives on vocals.
To hear the single "I Remember" from "Power of Peace" click on the player below.
"I can go see a show with Carlos," said Tracy Isley. "I can see Isley Brothers. But when the two of them came together, it's like, wow, you don't see that every day!"
A four-day collaboration in the studio that was years in the making -- and to hear Carlos Santana tell it, their timing was just perfect: "He is the king of singers," Carlos said, "because no one sculptures notes like Ronnie. Certain singers, they have this other gift of making a note become the Pacific Ocean, or a galaxy -- one note. One note that unites people."
For Ron Isley, the result is a little bit of heaven: "I said, 'Man, you should become a preacher!' And he said, 'One day, I'm gonna have a church.' And I said, 'I will come to that church!'"
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